Sales lift seen for small-wind technology

By Heather Clancy Summary: New research suggests generation capacity for small-scale wind generation technology could triple over the next five years. Just back from Ireland, where I noticed quite a few wind turbines dotting the landscape between the cities of…

By Heather Clancy

Summary: New research suggests generation capacity for small-scale wind generation technology could triple over the next five years.

Just back from Ireland, where I noticed quite a few wind turbines dotting the landscape between the cities of Shannon and Killarney. So I read with interest while plowing through my email that small wind technologies continue to build a bigger presence on the renewable energy technology landscape.

A new report from Pike Research (“Small Wind Power”) suggests that the market will more than double between 2010 and 2015, reaching $634 million. The small wind technology generation capacity will triple during that four-year timeframe to 152 megawatts and the average cost-per-kilowatt will fall to around $4,150, according to Pike Research.

Discussing the report, Pike Research senior analyst Peter Asmus wrote:

“The payback period for a small wind system can be 5 to 10 years in a region with adequate wind resources. 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.”

One factor holding back small wind adoption has been financing, which hasn’t been as supportive of small wind technology as the options that have been supporting solar energy deployments.

While leasing and other options, such as power purchasing agreements, are gaining ground, one has to wonder whether or not the fallout from the Solyndra debacle won’t cast a pall over state or federal programs supporting renewable energy. It has already derailed one major program in recent weeks: SolarCity’s SolarStrong effort, which was a plan to install solar on 160,000 military homes.