Challenges Facing Wind Energy Companies

Wind energy companies in the United States achieved an amazing milestone in 2009 by installing a record 10,000 megawatts of brand new energy generating capacity across the states, but are now facing challenges, as are wind power companies in China and Europe.

This recent trend toward renewable energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower seemed to be increasing until the beginning of 2010. Now, it's very apparent that the U.S. is facing some very real challenges in the wind industry.

The success of wind energy at present lies with the federal government and their willingness to pass what is called an RES or Renewable Electricity Standard.

What is a Renewable Electricity Standard?

What is a Renewable Electricity Standard or RES? According to, a RES is a government mandate with a time frame that requires electric utilities to generate a percentage of energy from renewable sources, such as solar energy, wind power, biomass or other sources.

The most current RES presented to Congress states that the U.S. promises to generate 25% of the country's required energy needs directly from renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Unfortunately, on July 27, 2010, the proposed energy bill did not include this verbiage and now wind energy companies and proponents of renewable energy sources are hoping for at minimum a more moderate RES that would decrease the requirement to 15%, but still pass.

Why is a RES Important?

Why is a RES important to the U.S.? Essentially, it would encourage both local and international renewable energy companies to press forward in the area of wind technology. When the government doesn't have an RES in place supporting the industry, the interest and trust in the industry flags, which means production decreases and jobs are lost.

Combined with PTCs, federal Protection Tax Credits, a RES would give the wind industry the go-ahead to move forward with confidence. It's when the PTCs are permitted to lapse that the wind energy companies experience a stop-and-go fluctuation in production and that's not healthy for the wind industry or the country's energy production.

Let's look at the amount of money non-renewable energy companies received in years past as a result of legislation passed by the government. The nuclear industry received federal subsidies for $145 billion. Wind energy companies received a mere $1.3 billion. Do you see the discrepancy? If the U.S. government would strongly support renewable energy sources like wind energy, thousands of local jobs be created!

Did You Know?

  • The wind industry provides jobs locally because turbines and the parts associated with them are too expensive to ship?

  • In the year 2009, renewable energy sources combined provided 10.5% of energy in the U.S.

  • The U.S. is the global leader in wind energy right now

  • 36 U.S. states boast significant wind energy projects

  • 85,000 jobs were provided to U.S. citizens by wind energy companies in 2009

  • The passing of a strong RES by Congress would generate nearly 270,000 jobs in the U.S!

Doesn't it make sense that the government should pass a RES? It's amazing to think that thousands of jobs would be created and new wind companies and innovative technologies could be created throughout the U.S. simply by the passing of even moderate Renewable Electricity Standard legislation.

Chinese and European Wind Energy Companies Face Challenges Too

The United States isn't the only country facing challenges and obstructions to the furtherance of wind energy generation. China and Europe are experiencing different challenges, but ones that are inhibiting their progress in the wind industry as well.

Wind Energy in China

Chinese wind turbine manufacturing companies numbered 6 in the year 2004. As of early 2010, they now have 70 locations producing wind turbines. When they first began producing turbines, the size they made was in demand. However, a few years later, they realized that size was not performing as well as it should, so demand dropped to nearly nothing.

The Chinese manufacturing companies for wind turbines had to return to the drawing board and produce a new size of turbine that performed more efficiently. Now, production is seeing an increase, but just as in the U.S., government support for the industry would go very far toward helping the turbine manufacturing companies move forward.

Unique Wind Power Challenges in Europe

The wind energy companies in Europe face a unique challenge - they don't have the land available for wind turbine installations like the U.S. and some other countries. They are now faced with trying to figure out how to install wind turbines in the ocean!

Unfortunately, at present, the technology for sustaining wind turbines located in water and exposed to harsh weather conditions does not exist. European companies are researching and working toward realistic solutions and new technology in order to meet this challenge.

Is it possible for wind energy companies to see progress and success? Absolutely! However, positive government policies on renewable energy would go a long way toward making this happen.

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