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'Small wind' market to double by 2013, study says

Pike Research sees industry of small wind turbines escalating to $412 million in revenue over the next three years.

Individuals and commercial businesses around the world are increasingly drawn to small wind turbines to supplement energy consumption, according to a report released Wednesday by Pike Research.

The niche industry of small wind turbines, which saw $165 million in revenue in 2008 and $203 million in 2009, will grow to $412 million by 2013, according to Pike's "Small Wind Power" report.

It can be attributed to the fact that on a cost-per-watt basis many are finding small wind turbines to be less expensive than solar panels, David Link, senior analyst at Pike Research, said in his report.

This is especially true in the U.S. and the U.K. where government support in the form of incentives, tax credits, and municipal height restrictions for structures being lifted for small wind turbines.

There are still places that see wind turbines as "visual pollution." But Pike's report found legislative reviews and incentives indicating that government support for wind turbines is increasing.

However, there are still hurdles.

Because of wind energy's intermittent nature, wind turbines are usually seen working in conjunction with another energy source such as diesel generation. This, coupled with permitting issues depending on a resident's municipal rules, could provide a holdup to market growth, according Pike.

The report is in keeping with the American Wind Energy Association's assessment of the U.S. small-wind industry marketthat came out in May. It found a 78 percent increase in sales from 2007 to 2008, but that seemingly impressive percentage figure is largely due to a modest starting place. Despite the jump in growth, the report estimated that only a total of 10,000 small wind turbine units were installed in 2008.