This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 19, 2009

U.S. Wind Power Industry Fights Headwinds in Second Quarter

The U.S. wind industry blew hot and cold during the second quarter of 2009. Although 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new wind power were added in the United States—putting this year's total ahead of last year—the number of new orders as well as the manufacturing activity associated with the industry declined, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). More than 4,000 MW was installed during the first six months of 2009, topping the 2,900 MW added during the same period a year ago. Of the 10 states that boosted their wind generating capacity this period, Missouri grew at the fastest rate, nearly doubling its wind power capacity with 146 MW of new wind generation, while Texas added the most wind power capacity, at 454 MW. And in another milestone, Iowa passed the 3,000-MW cumulative total by reaching 3,043 MW statewide, solidifying its position as second to Texas in overall wind power capacity. See the AWEA press release and report (PDF 342 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

However, in what the report termed a "troubling" development, industry-related manufacturing dropped as the economy cooled. The report cited the fact that "many existing supply chain companies" for wind turbines have furloughed workers or started hiring freezes because of the slowdown in contracts for wind turbines. Still, not all news was bad on the manufacturing front. Three wind turbine and turbine component manufacturing sites were opened, and another four expanded, bringing to 20 the number of wind facilities that have opened, expanded, or been announced this year. The three manufacturers coming online during the second quarter were Nordic Windpower USA, manufacturing utility-scale wind turbines in Pocatello, Idaho; Mariah Power, building small vertical-axis wind turbines in Manistee, Michigan; and Danotek Motion Technologies, producing generators in Canton, Michigan. See the Mariah Power press release (PDF 126 KB).

Most significantly, eight new facilities, delivering goods from small turbines to towers and components, were announced during the second quarter. Engineering giant Siemens said it would begin construction this month on a $50 million plant in Hutchinson, Kansas, that will begin producing nacelles for its 2.3-MW wind turbines in late 2010. Nacelles are the bus-shaped enclosures that house the turbine gearbox and generator. The factory aims to produce 650 nacelles per year, creating at least 400 new jobs. Meanwhile, GE said in June it would open a research and development facility near Detroit, Michigan, that will investigate advanced manufacturing technologies, including technologies relating to wind turbine manufacturing. See the press releases from Siemens and GE and the related posting on GE reports, the company's blog.

Although the third quarter is only half-way through, there has already been some positive news for the wind power industry. In early July, DOE offered a conditional guarantee of a $16 million loan for Nordic Windpower to expand its newly opened assembly plant in Idaho, potentially creating more than 75 new skilled jobs there. In late July, Nordex USA announced that it is starting construction of its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Jonesboro, Arkansas, for the production of its 2.5-MW wind turbines. The $100 million undertaking includes a $40 million nacelle assembly factory, which should start production next year and reach full production of 300 nacelles per year by 2012. The $60 million second phase will be a wind blade manufacturing plant at the same location, with the goal of being at full-scale production by 2014. See the press releases from Nordic Windpower (PDF 72 KB) and Nordex.