From Green Right Now Reports

Wind energy will grow fastest in Asia and other parts of the developing world over the next few years, but appears headed for a drop in activity in North America starting in 2013, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The council released a five-year outlook report this week that predicts it is too late for the US to avoid a decline in wind energy production caused by Congress’ reluctance to renew the production tax credit that has fueled growth in the sector in recent years.

Elsewhere, however, in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe, wind energy is expected to enjoy strong or steady incremental growth.

The drop in US activity will not completely drag down the North American wind market, because Mexico and Canada can expect strong activity after installing about 1,000 megawatts of wind in 2012, according to GWEC.

But the graphic produced for the report shows that the expected slowdown in 2013 in the US will bring the sector to well below 2012 levels, reducing wind additions in North America by about one-third.

The green bars tracking North America show the predicted slowdown in growth, starting in 2013 and continuing until 2015. The bars show the amount of wind capacity each region is predicted to add in each year.

Tax support for renewable energy has been caught in the debate in Washington over whether the US can afford to support such programs. Both houses of Congress have introduced legislation to extend the tax credit for either four or two years before it expires at the end of 2012; and have gathered bipartisan support.

But the measures have so far not been acted upon, jeopardizing 37,000 American jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The Global Wind Energy Council says that any renewal of the production tax credit, which offers a rebate based on the energy produced by a project, will “likely” come too late to restore the full potential for US wind in 2013:

It now seems unlikely that the reauthorisation of the US federal Production Tax Credit will happen in time to have a major impact on the 2013 market, so a substantial drop is expected in 2013 in the US market, while Canada and Mexico remain strong. Overall, just over 50 GW is expected to be installed in North America from 2012-2016, bringing total installed capacity to just over 100 GW [gigawatts] at the end of the period.

By contrast, Asia [China, Japan and India predominantly] will have more than 200 gigawatts of installed wind power by 2016 and Europe will have more than 150 gigawatts, the report forecasts.

“For the next five years, annual market growth will be driven primarily by India and Brazil, with significant contributions from new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General.

“While the market continues to diversify across all continents, it is at the same time plagued by continued slow economic growth and budget crises in the OECD, as well as the continuing credit crunch.”