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Three Big Factors Changing the Renewable Energy Industry

02 Aug 15:00 by Steve Walia

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America's wind energy sector is gaining traction, and a surprising number of factors - beyond supportive government policy - are helping this to happen. 

Corporations are playing a key role, with big brands such as Amazon and Google leading the way to invest privately in their own green energy systems and grow public awareness and support for renewables in the process. The AWEA has noticed a real trend for corporations to invest in wind energy in the past three years, and 2015 was a particularly notable year for this. In fact, just over half of all contracted wind capacity was bought by non-utility businesses. Other early adopters include Target, Dow Chemical and Proctor & Gamble, all of whom view wind power as a cost-competitive, low-risk energy option. This trend is expected to grow.

Another key driver is the emergence of economies of scale in the wind energy sector, with three equipment manufacturers now installing a whopping 99pc of all new turbines in the first half of this year - Vestas, Siemens and GE Renewable Energy. GE and Vestas have a total 80pc market share, but there are still opportunities for smaller firms too.

A third key factor is the growth of the wind turbines themselves. The largest ever built is now 379 feet from hub to ground and reaches over 100 feet above its neighbouring turbines. This still has some way to go to catch up with Europe, where 8 MW turbines are being used with blades of up to 290 feet. However, greater turbine sizes mean greater energy production and efficiency.

It is also interesting to note that America's first offshore wind farm will be opening this year off Rhode Island, with five 6 MW wind turbines being installed and going live in autumn.