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According to the second annual Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications soon to be published by DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. wind turbines in distributed applications reached a cumulative installed capacity of 842 MW at the end of 2013, reflecting nearly 72,000 units installed. Exports from U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers increased 70% from 8 MW in 2012 to an estimated total of 13.6 MW in 2013. U.S. small wind turbines (those up to 100 kW in size) were exported to more than 50 countries in 2013, with top export markets reported to be Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and countries in Africa.
The distributed wind sector installed only 30.4 MW of new capacity in 2013—an 83% decline from the new capacity installed in 2012. Several factors contributed to this slower rate of growth, including competitive photovoltaic and natural gas prices and suspended or reduced incentives on both the state and federal levels. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program funded 25 wind projects with $1.2 million in grants in 2013, compared to 57 projects with $2.6 million in 2012.
Distributed wind energy systems are commonly installed on residential, agricultural, commercial, and industrial sites connected either physically or virtually on the customer side of the meter (to serve onsite load) or directly to the local distribution or microgrid (to support local grid operations or offset nearby loads). Because the definition is based on a wind project's location relative to end-use and power-distribution infrastructure, rather than on technology size or project size, the distributed wind market includes wind turbines and projects of many sizes. Distributed wind systems can range in size from a 1 kW or smaller for an off-grid turbine at a remote cabin, to a 10-kW turbine at a home, to one or several multimegawatt turbines at a university campus or manufacturing facility.
PNNL's Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications is a primary information resource that summarizes and analyzes the U.S. distributed wind market. The report will be available this summer at http://energy.gov/eere/wind/distributed-wind. For more information, contact Alice Orrell.