America's small wind turbine industry saw substantial growth in 2010, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported recently, highlighted by a 26 percent expansion in the market for small wind systems with 25.6 megawatts (MW) of capacity added, as well as a robust increase in sales revenue. Nearly 8,000 small wind units were sold last year, totaling $139 million in sales. "Across the country people are saving money and helping the environment by using small wind turbines to power their homes, farms and businesses" said Larry Flowers, AWEA deputy director of distributed and community wind. "This report shows that the market for clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy is as good in small scale applications as it is for large utilities."
Small wind turbines are defined as those that are 100 kilowatts and under. The U.S. small wind industry represents an estimated 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs. Small wind turbines manufactured in North America typically incorporated 80-percent domestic content. With small wind scaling up during the last few years, its benefits are becoming more noticeable. Growth in 2010 pushed cumulative sales in the U.S. to an estimated 179 MW of capacity-a total that reaches well into the range of many utility-scale wind farms. As a result, small wind is having a positive impact on the environment, as installations now annually displace 161,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That is the equivalent of taking 28,000 cars off the road.
Small wind's 2010 growth was supported by sound policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Those policies enabled more than $30 million in rebates, tax credits, and grants to go to small wind purchasers, users, and others. Though more than 30 states offered small wind incentives and grants, a long-term and consistent federal policy is crucial to the growth of the country's small wind industry. The current Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for small wind expires at the end of 2016.