North America

The US market posted annual market growth of more than 30% in 2011, adding 6,810 MW in 31 states for a total installed capacity of almost 47 GW, and cumulative market growth of nearly 17%. While the US market struggles with uncertainty surrounding the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power is now established in 38 states, and the footprint of the US turbine and component manufacturing industry covers 43 states. This means that US manufacturers were able to supply about 60% of the content for the US market in 2011, up from just 25% a few years ago. All things point towards more growth in 2012, although this is clouded by dim prospects for the 2013 market, depending on the fate of the PTC.

 Canada had a record year in 2011, installing 1,267 MW, and passing the 1 GW milestone for the first time in a single year. While the federal government has backed away from supporting wind power, provincial governments are stepping up to fill the gap. Looking at a market of up to 1,500 MW in 2012, Canada now has a total installed capacity of 5,265 MW, and is on track to meet the industry-set target of 10 GW by 2015.

 New procurement processes are underway now in a number of provinces, and it was gratifying to see that the government of Ontario, Canada’s leading wind province chose to highlight its progressive renewables policy in the recent provincial election, despite the controversy surrounding the issue in some quarters. Mexico, which as a result of it joining the OECD and NAFTA is now considered part of North America, also saw a great deal of activity in 2011. Despite only commissioning 50 MW of new wind power, an additional 300 MW was constructed but not connected to the grid until early 2012, so we’ll have to count them in the 2012 totals. While there is no direct support for wind power or other renewables in Mexico, a number of fiscal and regulatory measures have been improved recently which makes Mexico an attractive market. Mexico ended 2011 with 569 MW, but expects to pass the 1 GW mark in May of this year, and will perhaps pass the 2 GW mark by the end of 2012.