According to a new report from Pike Research the small wind industry is set to enter a major growth spurt.The report 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 period, new small wind system installed capacity will nearly triple to 152 megawatts (MW). This boom in investment will cause average installed prices of small wind systems to decline to just over $4,150 per kilowatt (kW).
Wind farm turbines typically produce more than 1.5 megawatts, or 1,500 kilowatts of electricity. In contrast, turbines for individual and commercial applications typically range from 1 kilowatt to 100 kilowatts, these are the small wind turbines. The use of wind turbines, great and small, has grown in recent years as energy prices and interest in green energy have also risen.
The report artibutes the expected growth of the sector in the coming years to the fact that small wind is currently more efficient and therefore, cheaper on a cost-per-watt basis than solar photovoltaic cells. Also, government incentives play a role. In Britain, a ‘feed-in tariff’ introduced last year promises operators of small wind turbines above-market rates for the power they produce. In the United States, the federal government provides a 30 percent tax credit for wind turbines. In addition, farms, ranches and small businesses can claim advanced depreciation on the value of the turbine, which allows the customer to claim 100 percent of the turbine’s depreciation in the first year.
Small wind turbines have an expected life span of 30 to 50 years.The payback time of a small wind turbine can be 5 to 10 years depending on the wind available in the located area, which makes it a good option to be used for any commercial or residential purpose, according to the report. It 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.
Currently the U.S. is dominating the small wind turbine market. That is projected to continue in the coming years.