It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that wind power is growing fast in the United States (and worldwide). Under the Bush administration, a goal of getting 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030 was set and we are currently ahead of schedule on that. However, a lot of people wonder, where are these wind turbines being made? Is this creating jobs in the U.S. or in China?
Well, clearly, if our federal government (in particular, Congress) did more to support clean energy, we would be creating more jobs in the U.S. Even without this, though, the wind industry is creating more and more jobs in the U.S. and helping to grow our economy.
Here’s a little more from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which is hosting a major wind energy conference and exhibition in California right now, WINDPOWER 2011.
Wind power’s vast supply chain, which produces the 8,000 components making up a typical wind turbine, continues to grow deeper roots here in the U.S. Today the industry employs 75,000 people, and over 400 wind-related manufacturing plants dot the map in 43 states, from California where the industry began 30 years ago, through the Midwest which now leads wind development, to the Southeast even though its first wind farm is still on the drawing board.
In 2010 the industry reached 50 percent domestic content for U.S.-deployed turbines, and that percentage will continue to rise with stable policy signals. Fourteen more manufacturing facilities came online in 2010 to serve the industry. In addition, wind farms provide lease payments to landowners – $3,000 a year per turbine is typical – providing America’s farmers and ranchers with a stable new cash crop, as well as adding tax revenue to local communities, allowing them to build hospitals, schools, town halls, and libraries.
Yes, wind power is creating jobs in the U.S. and growing our manufacturing industry.
2011 is looking to be a great year for wind energy in the U.S., both in its continued growth and development as well as in federal policies and milestones. Again, here’s more from AWEA:
- In February, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled a coordinated strategic plan, A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, which pursues the deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030. They announced $50.5 million in funding opportunities for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment.
- Also in February, the Secretary of the Interior announced the creation of high-priority Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) through the “Smart from the Start” Initiative, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) designated the leasing areas included in the Delaware and Maryland Requests for Information (RFIs) as WEAs. This announcement also designated WEAs off the coasts of New Jersey and Virginia, and outlined plans to identify additional WEAs off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island this spring.
- In March, the Secretary of the Interior and BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich announced the initiation of the process to offer the first commercial wind lease under the “Smart from the Start” Initiative off the coast of Delaware. The decision followed a determination that there was no competing interest for commercial wind energy development there at present.
- In April, BOEMRE announced a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) for wind energy development offshore of New Jersey.
- Also in April, the Secretary of the Interior announced that BOEMRE approved a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the long-awaited Cape Wind project, in Massachusetts. Construction of this project could begin as early as the fall.
The U.S. public loves wind energy, from every poll I’ve seen on the matter, and would love the U.S. government to do more to promote it (instead of dirty fossil fuel power sources like coal). Hopefully, we’ll pick up our game and these milestones and figures will be ancient history soon.
- Installed Wind Power Capacity per Capita (Country Comparisons)
- Offshore Wind Future Looks Bright but Challenges & Uncertainty Remain, New Report Finds
- Wind Power Wilts in Wisconsin, Surges in North Dakota
- Vestas Launches New Version of Most Popular Wind Turbine, Energy Production 10-15% Higher
- Projected Wind Power Growth (Worldwide)
- Offshore Wind Power Market about to Boom (Report)
- World Wind Power (Comprehensive wind power information page)
Photo via Duke Energy
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.