5Boom Phase. The continual short-term extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) in one to two year increments creates a boom-bust cycle within the wind energy sector. This process makes it nearly impossible for composite manufacturers and other businesses to plan strategic growth. Because the current PTC—set to expire at the end of 2012—has not yet been renewed by Congress, construction numbers will continue to soar in attempts to complete projects before the 2012 deadline.

4Southerly Migration. The wind power industryis steadily growing within the southeast region. Statistics by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) show 74 manufacturing plants in that region alone. Not to mention, it states, utilities in states like Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina boosting their alternative energy projects.

3 Fixed Cost. Wind energy has its bragging rights intact. Unlike the volatile prices of fuel, wind power maintains a fuel cost of zero and is guaranteed to stay at zero into 2012. According to AWEA, it can also claim zero water use, zero air emissions and zero water pollution. As the American Composites Manufacturers Association focuses on a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of its materials and products, it can build upon that bragging right.

2Ingenuity. The wind industry continues to outdo itself building stronger, longer composite wind blades, taller towers and more efficient components. With floating and airborne turbines on or soon to be on the market, the sky (and the deep ocean) is the limits to a growing variety of wind turbines. Look out for future innovations to push the envelope in 2012.

1A Yes or No. If Congress fails to extend the PTC, it would raise taxes on wind and force many companies to cut employees (Navigant Consulting estimates 37,000 lost jobs), not to mention a loss of private investment. However, if they pass or create a new stable PTC before the 2012 deadline, the wind industry will continue to add manufacturing jobs and foster economic activity. A recent study shows that with a stable PTC, the wind industry could create 100,000 American jobs within four short years, inclusive of the growing trend of composite manufacturing within wind blades, nacelles, towers and more.

Putting Europe on the Map

Windmills_D1-D4_webNew statistics published by the European Wind Energy Association shows:

  • 9,616 MW of wind power capacity installed in 2011
  • Wind power accounts for 22 percent of total 2011 power capacity installations—more than any other year.
  • Total installed power capacity is8 95,878 MW
  • Germany remains the largest installed capacity in the EU.
  • Since 2000, 28.2 percent of new capacity installed has been wind power, 47.8 percent renewable, 90.8 percent renewable and gas combined.