Earlier this week, the Department of Energy (DOE) released its 2013 Distributed Wind Market Report, which shows a large increase in the percentage of US-manufactured wind turbines being sold globally as the domestic market weakens.
More than three-quarters of all small wind turbines built in America last year were sold to foreign countries, a big jump from 57 percent in 2012, the report said. The turbines were exported to more than 50 countries, with Italy, Germany, China, and Mexico as the top buyers.
These foreign sales are most likely what kept the manufacturing companies from going under. According to the DOE, investments in American-made small wind turbines dropped from $101 million in 2012 to $36 million in 2013.
“To compensate for weaker domestic sales, US small wind turbine manufacturers shifted their focus to growing international markets,” read the report. “Importers interviewed for this report indicated that they spent their efforts in more promising international markets … as it was hard to justify sales efforts in the United States without consistent policy support at federal, state, and utility levels.
Part of the consistent support the report is referring to is the production tax credit (PTC) that wind energy companies receive. The $13 billion annual credit encouraged growth and helped the wind industry attempt to compete with big oil, coal, and natural gas. However, the PTC expired on January 1, 2014 as Congress failed to pass an extension.
The PTC did apply to projects that began construction in 2013, which should be completed this year or by the end of 2015. The American Wind Energy Association says that more than 12,000 megawatts of wind capacity were constructed by the end of last year.
“These provisions have helped restart the domestic wind market and are expected to spur capacity additions in 2014 and 2015, read the 2013 Wind Technologies Market report, also released this week. “With the PTC now expired and its renewal uncertain, however, wind deployment beyond 2015 is also uncertain.”
The PTC’s renewal might be doomed, or at least it will be if the GOP has it’s way. Last week, 54 House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demanding the end of “crony” tax subsidies for wind energy companies.
Any advance in non-fossil fuel energy means fewer profits for the billionaire GOP donors who make their money off oil, coal, and natural gas. Ending tax breaks for alternative energy companies hampers innovation, making the US that much more dependent on fossil fuels, and the Republican party that much more under the industry’s thumb.