Wind Farm Development Up in the Air in 2013

Now that Congress has renewed green subsidies, many factories that make turbines and other wind farm components are expecting a fresh set of orders in the second half of 2013.

However, because the long-term future of these subsidies remains in question, industry experts say 2013 projects are unlikely to match the record number of megawatts installed in 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Wind power also faces other obstacles: the months it takes to get plants up and running; competition from low-priced natural gas fueled by growth in the fracking business; and overall sluggish demand for electricity in the US.

While some developers have drawn up plans for expansion, like Duke Energy and First Wind, who has projects totaling 500 megawatts planned, other firms are less confident. German-owned Siemansannounced in September 2012 job cuts of 600-plus positions at its wind-turbine factories in Kansas and Iowa. Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark cut 600 jobs in Colorado. Gamesa, a Spanish firm that makes turbines and blades at two Pennsylvania locations, furloughed more than 260 workers.

“If you saw [the tax credit] more long-term, you would start hiring people,” according to Richard Klausen, manager of a Swedish-owned turbine bearings factory in Hanover, Pa.

The wind industry is also comparatively small, accounting for just 3.3% of US electricity output.  Its dramatic growth in recent years, with some 12 gigawatts of capacity installed in 2012, has largely been fueled by government subsidies.  That’s why the industry remains wary of the future.

To read the full Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here

Tags: Policy , Wind

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