The pullback in alternative energy stocks and related exchange traded funds belie the growth spurt in the wind turbine industry.
However, installations of wind turbines in the U.S. more than quadrupled in 2014, led by significant expansions in Texas, as developers raced ahead with projects before the federal subsidy expired, reports Ehren Goossens for Bloomberg.
Developers added 4,850 megawatts of wind farms, compared to 1,087 megawatts in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The U.S. generates over 65 gigawatts of winder power capacity, only behind China’s 96 gigawatts.
“Wind is one of the biggest, cheapest, and fastest ways to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful air pollutants, and simultaneously uses no water,” according to the American Wind Energy Association. “Indeed the financial advisory firm Lazard recently estimated that wind energy is more affordable than new natural gas or coal generation even without subsidies. It will play a key role in meeting any climate change programs we may pursue.”
Looking globally, wind power can potentially fulfill 12% of the global electricity demand by 2020, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Federal tax credit, though, remains the largest hurdle to the U.S. wind industry’s outlook. After wind development projects slumped 92% in 2013 year-over year as Congress let a federal production tax credit lapse, projects picked up on the renewal of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy in January 2014.
“We don’t think we need the PTC forever,” Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s chief executive officer, said in the article. “We want to figure out a responsible policy going forward to extend the PTC for as long as possible. We don’t want the industry to go off the cliff again.”