Texas wind boom busies Port of Houston

E&E • Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Texas wind boom has prompted a big increase in the number of wind turbine parts passing through the Port of Houston.

In 2011, 55,800 tons of wind equipment sailed into Houston from foreign ports, nearly twice the tonnage from the previous year.

“In 2009, financing stopped. Projects were put up on the shelf,” said Ricky Kunz, vice president of the division of the port authority that develops trade at the port. “Now, you’re beginning to see it come back.”

American production of wind turbine parts — especially turbine blades and towers — is increasing, according to a Congressional Research Service report from last year. But such parts are difficult to transport, and manufacturing clusters have begun to develop near the best wind energy production locations — notably Colorado, Iowa and Texas. Still, American production can’t keep up with demand, and the supply chain remains global.

The boom may take a serious hit, though, if Congress doesn’t extend an expiring federal tax credit encouraging wind production, said Peter Kelley, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association (Kiah Collier, Fuel Fix, Feb. 20). — AS.