Legal framework for wind projects: a US perspective



After lagging behind Germany and other European countries for 20 years, the United States is now the leader in installed wind power capacity.1 In 2009 the United States had 35,064 megawatts (MW) of installed wind power capacity, accounting for 22.1% of the world’s total.2 Despite the impact of the global credit crisis on project finance, the US wind power sector has continued to experience rapid advances. For example, the United States installed 9,996MW in new wind power capacity in 2009, while Europe installed 10,526MW and Asia 15,442MW during the same period.3

The increased viability of wind power projects in the United States is due in the main part to:

• the country’s wind energy resources;

• technological advances in wind turbine design and construction; and

• shifts in the economics of wind power generation.

In addition, energy policy and financial and tax incentives have spurred the development of wind power projects. All factors contributed to the US Department of Energy’s finding that wind power could provide 20% of the country’s electricity needs by 2030.4

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