The US Department of Energy’s recently published 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report shows a rising trend in domestically manufactured turbine equipment.  According to AWEA’s annual market report, the share of domestically manufactured turbine components grew from 20-25% in 2005 to around 50% in 2009.

Financially, the numbers show a decreased dependence in imported turbine equipment in 2009 than the previous two years.  Despite the industry’s largest installation growth in 2009, only $4.2 billion was spent on imported parts and goods, compared to $4.6 billion spent in 2007 and an industry peak of $5.4 billion spent in 2008.  When we look at it in terms of percentage, it’s even more promising.  Around 85% of total turbine cost was spent on imported parts in 2006, decreasing dramatically over the next four years to 39% in 2009.  These figures consider the fact that some parts may be purchased in the previous year and used in the following, and a four month lag was adjusted to compensate for this assumption, and the analysis is made from September of the previous year to August of the following.

Wind Power Equipment Imports as a Fraction of Total Turbine Cost

Wind Power Equipment Imports as a Fraction of Total Turbine Cost

The United States still leads the way in global importation of turbine equipment, representing approximately 34% of worldwide imports.  This seems like a rather significant percentage – especially since no other country reached 10% of global imports – but keep in mind, 2009 installations increased our annual capacity by almost 10,000 MW.  Plus, the United States contributed rather significantly to global installations, placing second after China (13,750 additional MW).  Spain trails in third with a significantly lower 2,331 additional MW installed.

Continuation of the domestic production trend could lead to future economic benefits.  Last year, 13 new facilities opened and 21 were announced.  Because of increased domestic production, a number of American manufacturers previously inactive in the wind energy sector were able to transition into the industry.  As a result of these developments, AWEA estimates that the wind energy sector employed around 85,000 full-time employees in 2009.  Although these figures were the same in 2008, the number of job-years was significantly higher for 2009 than for 2008.  This suggests that wind energy is providing stable jobs to our economy.

Based on the numerous sector projects announced in 2009, the US Department of Energy expects increased domestic production in the years ahead, but only if our wind power market remains stable.   Enforcing a national RPS could greatly facilitate the stability of the wind market.  Unfortunately, as we have mentioned in our previous blog post, a national RPS is no longer included in the energy bill.  We continue to encourage you to contact your Senators and urge for the inclusion of a renewable energy standard in future legislation.