“As a result, while many projects will certainly aim to meet the ‘start construction' deadline by the end of the year, 2013 is expected to be a slow year for new capacity additions, lowering not only U.S. but global growth forecasts,” the report said.
Last year was a tough one for many small manufacturers of wind turbines, said Mike Bergey, president at Bergey Windpower. In areas outside of the windy, central United States, small wind turbines compete with solar panels for many consumers. Bergey said Chinese dumping of cheap solar panels on the U.S. market hurt small turbine manufacturers as consumers opted instead for solar.
The United States last year instituted tariffs against Chinese solar panels, which should help small wind turbine manufacturers, Bergey said. China has since retaliated with its own tariffs on the raw materials used for solar panels.
Despite the industry turmoil, Bergey Windpower continued to expand its Norman operations. The company added employees as it shut down a Chinese subsidiary and moved production back to the United States. It also bought a firm in Mississippi that makes power inverters and moved it to Norman. The company employs 35 people and sells most of its wares outside the state or around the world.
“We wouldn't trade our position with anyone,” said Bergey, who also is president of the Distributed Wind Energy Association. “We've got a good start on business this year and we're bullish about next year. The economy is recovering and people are starting to buy big-ticket items again.”
Bergey said the company's top model, a 10 kilowatt turbine with a 120-foot tower, typically costs about $60,000. With tax credits and depreciation, many businesses can see payback on the investment in six to eight years, he said.