Industry experts say the demand for larger-scale wind farms leveled off in the last year while the demand for the smaller turbines that can power homes, schools or farms enjoyed growth. A new brief released by the American Wind Energy Association at its meeting in Des Moines says the generating capacity of the small wind systems across the nation grew 26% last year.

AssOciation spokesman Larry Flowers says,”Now that’s an interesting number because the large-wind industry had about a 45% drop in their megawatts installed, so while the large industry had a tough year, the small industry actually grew.” Sales revenues from small-scale wind development grew 53%.

Flowers says there’s also a growing demand for exports of parts for small wind systems to Asia and other parts of the world. Brett Pingree is the vice president of sales for Northern Power Systems, a wind turbine manufacturer based in Vermont. He says the company had its best year ever in 2010.

“So when we have an increase of awareness of the importance of clean energy, which has been at an all-time high in our public due to oil spills and climate change, this really has created a lot of momentum in the marketplace,” Pingree says. Pingree says sales were also boosted by federal and state policies encouraging renewable energy, including incentives in President Obama’s stimulus package.

Pingree says 2011 has been a much more difficult year so far. A full report from the industry is expected next month.