Shipments of small electric-generation devices — known collectively as microturbines — grew more than 300% in 2000, according to Madison, Wis.-based Primen, an independent energy market intelligence company.

For 2000, the Primen research found that industry shipments of microturbines grew to more than 1200 units, compared to deliveries of 300 units in 1999. In terms of electrical capacity, the growth rate in microturbine shipments rose even faster, exceeding 400%, with the average capacity of each unit shipped rising 45kW in 2000, up from 36kW in 1999.

Shipment destinations were split almost equally between U.S. and international markets, indicating that microturbines have global appeal and potential. Many of the microturbine installations last year were for upstream oil and gas applications, including supplying power to remote oil and gas fields as well as gas processing.

Going into 2001, microturbine manufacturers also reported a significant number of back orders, which suggests the increase in sales will continue and may exceed last year's levels of growth. Primen forecasts that manufacturers will ship at least 3500 units, and possibly as many as 5500 units, this year. These would provide net electrical capacity of 200MW to 300MW.