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Beyond near-term market uncertainty created by the financial crisis, the longer-term prospects for the U.S. wind industry remain strong, according to a new study from Emerging Energy Research (EER), a Cambridge, Mass.-based advisory firm.

While a rapidly growing U.S. wind market - expanding at an average annual growth rate of 40% since 2005 - has slowed down to pre-2008 levels, the market is expected to bounce back as soon as 2010, according to EER.

In the near term, EER forecasts that 2009 wind capacity additions may drop as low as 6.5 GW, 24% below 2008's record levels. But, with a return to liquidity in wind project debt and tax equity markets, EER anticipates a potential rebound of 9 GW of wind capacity additions in 2010 and 11 GW in 2011.

"The U.S. wind industry may post its strongest year ever in 2010, when the incentive-laced economic stimulus begins to show returns and transmission build-out reaches market," says Matthew Kaplan, a senior analyst with EER.

According to EER's study, the following trends signal a positive outlook for U.S. wind markets:

- the Obama administration's economic stimulus package, which provides several new tax equity financing options for wind projects installed in 2009 and 2010;

- state renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which drive wind growth with building momentum toward a national RPS;

- build-out of major new interstate transmission that aims to unlock high-wind resources in the Midwest and Southwest regions;

- major investments in U.S. wind turbine manufacturing facilities; and

- utility rate-based wind ownership activity, which continued to proliferate and diversify.

Under EER's base-case forecast scenario, U.S. annual wind power growth will increase from 8.5 GW in 2008 to nearly 15.5 GW by 2020.

For more information, visit emerging-energy.com.

SOURCE: Emerging Energy Research


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