MAKE Consulting has published its latest forecast for the North American wind industry, predicting that the United States will install approximately 59 gigawatts of new wind capacity between 2017 and 2026, driven by a “precarious boom and bust” cycle.
The new 2017 North America Wind Power Outlook unsurprisingly places the United States as the only real player in North America, with demand for wind power in Canada dwindling and Mexico’s wind power sector currently only classified as “burgeoning.” However, MAKE Consulting is currently forecasting a significant “boom period” over the next four years for the United States, as the full-value Production Tax Credit drives nearly 40 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity between 2017 and 2020 — more than two-thirds of the total 10-year forecast. Such a boom would be the largest four-year wind installation total in the country’s market history, and is primarily driven by demand from utilities under state renewable energy mandates.
However, while MAKE believes that the four-year span of the full-value Production Tax Credit (PTC) will drive significant new capacity, it nevertheless raises the specter of a Trump administration modifying policy, making completion of projects in the later years of the four-year period a risky proposition. Traditional challenges of any project development could be complicated by policy decisions made by the Trump administration, such as a border adjustment tax or other tariff action which could destabilize the wind supply chain. This is especially concerning considering a significant portion of the US wind supply chain has grown increasingly reliant on imported components, “imported” being a bugbear for the country’s new President. Corporate tax reform also threatens to reduce the US appetite for tax equity investments that have so far financed more than half of all US wind installations over the last few years.
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