About 6,000 people were employed by the Iowa wind industry in 2014. Across the US, about 73,000 people worked in the wind industry in the same year, which was an increase of about 23,000 over 2013. Iowa had the second-most wind industry employees in 2014.
Texas had even 11,000 more people working in the wind industry, with a total of 17,000.
Much press about renewable energy focuses on whether or not renewable energy is affordable (which it typically is now), but it tends to not acknowledge that renewable energy contributes economically by employing people to build wind and solar farms, and operate and maintain them. Research, design, engineering and manufacturing wind power technology are obviously required too. Wind power workers also need training, and that activity employs some as well. Another consideration that is overlooked typically is the fact that wind industry jobs are skilled, so they can pay well. According to one source, wind power service technicians can earn salaries ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 per year.
Fossil fuel power also creates jobs, but much of the cost comes from the fuel itself (not to mention the health costs). Wind and solar have been found to create many more jobs per $1 million invested than fossil fuel sources of power.
Iowa is known to be an agricultural powerhouse, but is also a wind powerhouse. It leads the nation in the percentage of its electricity that it generates from wind: about 28% of its total. Sometimes Midwestern states are criticized by people living on the coasts as the “flyover zone,” but Iowa is a renewable energy leader, which means it is a trailblazer. Iowa is not done, though; about 75% of the state is suitable for wind power, according to NREL.
It has also been estimated that Iowa could have 570,000 MW of wind power installed, but to produce all of its electricity from wind it would need far less than that. Currently, it has about 5,100 MW of wind power, so to generate 100% of its electricity from wind, it might only need about 20,000 MW. (Iowa could also choose to develop more wind power than it needs and try to sell excess electricity to neighboring states, of course.) Some solar power development and energy storage could help fill in the gaps, when wind power is not adequate.
Image Credit: Tim Fuller, Wiki Commons
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