The wind production federal tax credit was in the news a lot this week as it became a key point of debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, his opponent in the upcoming presidential election.
The president made extending the wind tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year, a topic during Obama’s 3-day tour of Iowa. A crucial swing state, Iowa is one of several states that has a lot invested in wind manufacturing.
To the contrary, as Romney’s campaign gained publicity with the introduction of Wisconsin Congressman (and chairman of the House Budget Committee) Paul Ryan. Romney’s staff members have made it clear that, if elected, he would not support extending the wind tax credit. Ryan’s record of opposition to federal subsidies for clean energy projects makes it unlikely that he would encourage any wavering on that position.
But some good news for the immediate future for the wind industry was released on Tuesday via the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
A new report shows that although there is uncertainty for the U.S. wind industry past 2012, last year was a strong showing as the country put approximately 6.8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity online. That makes the United States one of the fastest growing wind power markets in the world. Only China is ahead of the United States at this time.
This is far above the 5.2 GW added in 2010, but still below the U.S.’s all-time high for wind power in 2009 (10 GW).
With the threat of the wind production tax credit expiring at the end of the year, new wind power installations have skyrocketed, leading experts to predict that 2012 will certainly exceed last year’s added capacity–and may even surpass 2009′s numbers.
Time will tell and it will certainly be interesting to see how things stack up for the wind industry come January 1, 2013.