Last year, a Department of Energy study found that we'll need to surpass 300 gigawatts of wind power capacity to cover 20% of U.S. electricity demand in 2030. Compared to the transmission overhaul required, assembling and installing more than100,000 turbines in the interim would be the easy part! It's still a tall order, though.
In October, A-Power Energy Generation Systems (Nasdaq: APWR ) made a splash in this space with the announcement that it may supply up to 240, 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines to a proposed wind farm in Texas. That helps give a sense of the scale that's required in this potential wind transition. We'll need to successfully roll out more than 20 similarly sized projects per year, on average, over the next two decades.
The good news is that this west Texas wind farm is just one of countless projects being proposed. Not to be outdone by the new guy, turbine titan General Electric (NYSE: GE ) has lined up a $1.4 billion contract to supply turbines for an 845-megawatt wind farm in Oregon. And rather than being at the framework agreement stage, this project "has received the majority of the necessary government permits to operate and is ready to be built." That's no small detail.
The wind is clearly at turbine manufacturers' backs, which explains the move by United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX ) to get in on the act. UTC yesterday agreed to take a half-stake in California-based (but U.K.-listed) Clipper Windpower. Clipper has not had the easiest year, laying off employees at its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plant in January and burning cash at quite a strong clip. I have a good deal of confidence in UTC to turn this company around. Only then can it hope to compete with the likes of GE, Siemens (NYSE: SI ) , and rising Chinese stars like A-Power and Goldwind.