Power generation from small wind turbines is an increasingly important part of the broader market for renewable distributed energy generation. Small wind power provides cost-effective electricity on a highly localized level, both in remote settings as well as in conjunction with power from the utility grid. According to a new report from Pike Research, growth in the industry is being driven by increased government incentives and an expanded awareness of small wind technologies as an alternative source of electric power. Other market drivers include the desire for customer and community ownership of power generation and the recognition that investment in small wind turbines can be an enduring source of economic development for the rural locales in which they are typically deployed.
The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that the global market for small wind systems will more than double between 2010 and 2015, rising from $255 million to $634 million during that period. Within the same forecast horizon, small wind system installed capacity additions will nearly triple to 152 megawatts, and average installed prices of small wind systems will decline to just over $4,150 per kilowatt.
"The payback period for a small wind system can be five to 10 years in a region with adequate wind resources,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus. "These economics provide a strong value proposition for a variety of commercial, industrial, and residential applications. Small wind turbines are currently more efficient than solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and, therefore, more economical from a levelized cost of energy perspective."
Asmus adds, however, that despite their benefits, small wind turbines have not enjoyed the same level of innovation when it comes to unique financing and business models, particularly when compared with distributed solar energy. Pike Research’s analysis indicates that business models gaining traction in the small wind sector include leasing programs and utility or third-party ownership. However, subsidy scams in California, which shut down the nation’s most popular incentive program in 2011, have raised questions about whether programs designed for solar PV will work with small wind, given the increased complexity of siting and optimizing power production from small wind turbines.
Pike Research's report, "Small Wind Power", examines the global market for small wind power systems including the equipment, components, and installation and service models to enable distributed energy generation from small wind turbines. The report provides a comprehensive examination of industry growth drivers, technology issues, regulatory frameworks, financing structures, and the competitive landscape. Global market forecasts, segmented by world region, extend through 2015. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.