The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported the U.S. market for small wind turbines with 100 kilowatts (kW) capacity or less grew 78 percent in 2008, with a total of 17.3 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity, offering evidence that consumer demand for clean energy options is rising.

“Strong federal policies like the federal investment tax credit for small wind are critical to future growth, just as adoption of a federal renewable electricity standard is essential to growth in the utility-scale market,” said Denise Bode, AWEA CEO.

U.S. manufacturers sold about half of all small wind turbines installed worldwide last year. U.S. market share amounted to $77 million of the $156 million global total. Worldwide, about 38.7 MW of new small wind capacity was installed in 2008.

Growth in the small wind sector is largely attributable to increased private investment that has allowed manufacturing volumes to increase, particularly for the commercial segment of the market (systems 21–100 kW). The still-largest segment of the market, residential (1–10 kW), was likewise driven by investment and manufacturing economies of scale but also rising residential electricity prices and a heightened public awareness of the technology and its attributes.

“Consumers are looking for affordable ways to improve their energy security and reduce their personal carbon footprint. Small wind technology can be an answer to that search,” said Ron Stimmel, AWEA’s Small Wind Advocate.

The study included a poll of small wind manufacturers, who project a 30-fold growth in the U.S. small wind market within as little as five years, despite a global recession. Much of this estimated growth will be spurred by the new eight-year 30 percent federal investment tax credit passed by Congress in October 2008 and augmented in February 2009.

“Wind energy is an all-around win,” Bode said. “Every day, Americans are saving money on their electricity bills, boosting the national economic recovery and helping to reduce our collective greenhouse gas emissions. This is great news for all Americans.”