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Distributed Wind Market Report Finds Local Wind is Powering More U.S. Companies

Localized wind turbines provide a renewable alternative for U.S. companies' utility needs

September 2016
Distributed Wind Market Report Finds Local Wind is Powering More U.S. Companies
About 30 percent of the Method Chicago, Illinois, factory’s energy needs are met with a 600-kilowatt distributed wind turbine.
Courtesy of Patsy McEnroe Photography

Go on a road trip to just about anywhere these days and you're bound to see a wind farm. Those massive turbines’ sheer size demand your attention. However, these turbines aren't the only ones making waves in the renewable energy market.

Distributed wind produces electricity that is consumed on site or locally. It is usually generated on a smaller scale and is immediately used by the system or project owner. The electricity is not sent to a utility company to be bought by distant end-users. Distributed wind can range from a small, solitary turbine at a remote cabin to several large turbines powering an entire neighborhood.

Measuring the Market

The 2015 Distributed Wind Market Report offers the fourth annual analysis of the distributed wind market. General trends of the market report found 37 percent of the new distributed wind capacity added in 2015 was for industrial uses, including food processing plants and manufacturing facilities. The report also found U.S. exports of small wind turbines doubled from the previous year, adding 21.5 megawatts of capacity in 2015. Small wind exports have accounted for more than $310 million in combined sales between 2012 and 2015. The world’s top importers of U.S. wind turbines in 2015 were Italy, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Although distributed wind capacity additions have declined since 2012, when federal stimulus funding spurred renewable energy's expansion, 28 megawatts of new U.S. distributed wind power capacity were added in 2015 by installing 1,713 turbines. The U.S. States of Ohio, Nebraska, and Connecticut led the way for new distributed wind power capacity in 2015.

This work was funded by the Department of Energy's Wind Program. More information can be found in the full report and in DOE's announcement.

PNNL Research Team: Alice Orrell, Nik Foster, Scott Morris, and Juliet Homer

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