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COVID-19 Pandemic Puts $35 Billion in Wind Energy Investments at Risk, Says Industry Group

By Scott Levine - Mar 20, 2020 at 11:46AM

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The coronavirus outbreak represents a formidable headwind to the wind industry's success.

In one of the latest examples of the havoc that the novel coronavirus is wreaking on the U.S. economy, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) -- the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry -- yesterday stated its concerns that COVID-19 will "pose significant challenges to the American wind power industry." According to AWEA's calculations, the disease is jeopardizing the development of approximately 25 gigawatts of wind projects, representing $35 billion in investments.

Rural communities, where about 99% of wind projects are located, in particular, face considerable risk. The AWEA estimates that rural communities stand to lose about $8 billion in state and local tax payments and land-lease payments to private landowners. In addition, it's estimated that the pandemic threatens the loss of over 35,000 jobs, including wind turbine technicians, construction workers, and factory workers.

On a bank note, Benjamin Franklin wears a surgical mask.

Image source: Getty Images.

The development of wind projects is heavily reliant on the earning of tax credits. However, in order to qualify for the current credits, project developers are bound to begin construction before Dec. 31, 2020. With local and state governments implementing various measures to stop the spread of the virus, the success of project developers' meeting this deadline is dubious. Addressing this and other challenges, the AWEA is turning to the government for help. In the trade association's press release, it states that "to protect the industry and these workers, AWEA is asking Congress for flexibility in allowing existing policies to continue working for the industry through this period of uncertainty."

Illustrating one of the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting the industry, Siemens Gamesa, a global leader in the manufacturing of wind turbines, closed a second factory in Spain this week after learning that a second of its employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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