Wind energy forecast sours

Wind power–once regarded, alongside solar energy, as the next great hope in US and global energy generation–has encountered a cloudy forecast.

Regulatory turmoil and flattening demand in China have combined to give the wind power industry a guarded outlook. Producers also face potential post-election demand sluggishness as well as continued European debt challenges, although South America and Canada represent key opportunities, according to a recent report from the Global Wind Energy Council.

Wind power generation grew 6 percent in 2011, compared to growth rates of 34 percent and 45 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Most new installations have occurred in Asia, and China now constitutes 43 percent of global wind power capacity (down from 50 percent in 2010). While American providers face the expiration of an important tax credit, producers in Canada and Brazil are expected to partly offset lost installation and interest.

“The Latin American market is expected to almost fourfold from 2011 to 2016 and Brazil will contribute about three quarters to that, the global growth report said,” wrote Sara Sjolin in MarketWatch earlier last month. “Canada is expected to almost double its installed capacity by 2015.”

For more insight into the wind power generation industry, including its myriad challenges and opportunities, visit our industry profile at First Research.

Lee Simmons

Lee Simmons is a business writer in Austin. He covers the technology and media industries for Hoover's and offers random musings on the state of entertainment (among other pressing issues) for Bizmology. Follow him at Twitter.

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