“The federal government’s recent extension of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) has, again, provided a tremendous impetus for the wind industry in the U.S.,” said Steve Zwolinski, CEO of GE Energy’s wind energy division. “Many leading developers of wind projects now are encouraged to move forward with their plans to significantly increase the country’s supply of wind electricity.”
The PTC provides a 1.8-cent per kWh credit (adjusted annually for inflation) for electricity produced during the first 20 years of a wind project’s operation. With the extension, the PTC will remain in place through December of 2005, and is expected to spur a new wave of wind energy installations across the country. According to American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) executive director Randall Swisher, the extension “means that approximately $3 billion in wind energy investments forecast over the next several years are now back on track across the country.”
In Europe and Asia, GE Energy’s wind energy business has been expanding at a steady pace due to the adoption by many nations of government policy that supports the continued long-term growth of renewables. In Denmark, wind accounts for 20 percent of the country’s electricity. Germany, a muchlarger nation, has achieved 5.9 percent. In the U.S., wind energy provides less than 1 percent of the energy mix, which currently comes from coal (over 50 percent), nuclear (20 percent) and natural gas (18 percen), with hydropower making up most of the rest.
Under an aggressive growth scenario, according to the American Wind Energy Association, perhaps 6 percent of the nation’s electricity could be supplied by wind by year 2020. Still, the U.S. is holder of the world’s third largest wind power capacity, behind Germany and Spain, much smaller nations in terms of size.
The new contracts announced by GE Energy include projects in Iowa, Minnesota, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and California. All of the projects will use GE’s 1.5 MW wind turbines, which are the largest wind turbines assembled in the United States, and are the most widely sold and tested MW class wind turbines in the world. GE recently announced the installation of its 2,500th 1.5 MW machine for a project in Italy.
The announcement of the new U.S. projects follows on the heels of the October 4 announcement that GE Energy was selected to supply up to 660 wind turbines totaling 990 MW of wind-generated electricity for eight projects in Quebec, Canada. Those projects will be placed on-line between 2006 and 2012.
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