The USA is the world’s second largest wind power market after China. By the end of 2015, the United States had an installed capacity of 74 471 MW. By comparison, the number one country in Europe, Germany at the same time had 44 947 MW wind power and Sweden 6 025 MW.
In recent years, the market has been characterized by major fluctuations in establishment. Much due to tight time frames to get access to support systems and that sometimes they have already expired before they are extended. However, the US market now seems to stabilize and face a boom.
One reason is the federal government’s decision in 2015 about a five-year extension of the so-called Production Tax Credit (PTC) – an economic condition given over ten years, but with a reduction in the size of the aid, depending on when construction of a facility begins. The quicker the construction begins, the greater the support. The support applies for facilities that will start construction before the end of 2019. For facilities that began construction in 2015 and in 2016, maximum support will be granted. Then the aid is decreased the closer to 2019 construction starts. It is therefore of great economic importance to begin, not just the development, but the construction itself as soon as possible. This support, along with several other goals and support schemes at the state level and an overall goal of becoming self-sufficient in the energy field, provide the basis for positive prospects for wind power in the United States.
The prevailing market trend is proof of this. Also worth noting is that the cost of establishing wind power facilities fell by 66 percent between 2009 and 2015. US President Donald Trump has expressed a climate-critical attitude, which could be a worry for the renewable sector in the United States. At the same time, it should be recalled that the support for wind power in the form of PTC has been decided on a broad consensus between Republicans and Democrats, and that a large part of the goals that drive renewable expansion in the US are at the state level.
Eolus in the United States
Eolus is currently involved in three wind power projects in the United States. Crescent Peak with potential for 200-600 MW and Comstock comprising 20-100 MW is in the state of Nevada and is owned 100 percent by Eolus. The idea is that Eolus will develop the projects, and then the ready to build projects will be divested with or without associated electricity trading agreements, known as PPA.
The latest project Eolus has acquired is a repowering project in California. Eolus has acquired a 60 percent ownership in Wind Wall Development LLC in Tehachapi. In the area presently there are about 400 wind turbines built in the mid 1980s with an installed power of 40 MW. These will be replaced by eleven new turbines that will be able to produce about three times more electricity per year compared to the existing park with the same installed capacity. The acquisition has been through Eolus’s American subsidiary Eolus North America Inc., which also signed an agreement with Vestas for the supply of sufficient wind power components to ensure the full benefit of PTC (Production Tax Credit).