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The Americas region will add nearly 92 GW of new wind power capacity from 2013 to 2020, but the rate of growth will be dramatically different between North America and Latin America, according to a new report from MAKE Consulting.

Despite macroeconomic headwinds in North America, the report says enough demand exists to support and build over 6 GW per year; however, the market is crowded. The real opportunity over the next eight years will be in Latin America, where MAKE forecasts a 20% compounded annual growth rate.

Opportunities in Latin America abound as market potential has yet to be fully realized, and only recently have regulatory frameworks been executed to spur growth in renewable energy, MAKE explains. Unlike in North America, the emerging economies of Latin America and associated macroeconomic conditions support higher electricity consumption that creates opportunities for wind power development. Several markets in the region are also subject to seasonal and/or unsecure power sources, which drives an interest in harnessing domestic energy sources such as wind power, the report adds.

According to MAKE, growing pains caused by inadequate infrastructure, volatile political regimes and ineffective policies will influence a more sporadic growth trajectory than in more mature markets, but general demand is undeniable. Brazil highlights the region, becoming the second-largest market for new growth in the Americas with nearly 14 GW of wind capacity forecast to be installed through 2020.

MAKE says it believes the U.S. wind market is in the midst of the last production tax credit cycle. Given the expected stipulations of the program, MAKE predicts that installation numbers in the U.S. will rebound in 2014. A similar near-term growth is foreseen in Brazil on account of new capacity born from the 2009-2011 national power auctions and the delayed grid connection of 2012-2013 installations in 2014. Together, both the U.S. and Brazil markets will account for over 26 GW of installations from 2013 to 2016, with a bubble year expected in 2014.

Policy fulfillment, surplus power and competition from inexpensive gas and hydroelectricity will impact demand for wind power in North America over the next eight years, the report adds. Short-term policy support in the U.S., Ontario and Quebec will support growth from 2013 to 2016. In the longer term, MAKE says the industry will leverage a decreasing levelized cost of energy for onshore wind, increasing gas prices, and opportunity born from coal retirements in the U.S. and Canada markets to sustain growth.


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