Renewable energy is here to
stay. According to a Business Council for Sustainable Energy and
Bloomberg New Energy Finance report,
solar and wind power accounted for 68 percent of new capacity in 2015,
representing the largest source of new electrical power added to the grid.
Wind energy was the number one source of new electricity capacity
additions last year. And, Iowa made it into the record
books recently as the first state to generate more than 30 percent of their electricity from
wind. But you don’t have to live in Iowa
reap the benefits. Renewable energy jobs are available across the nation.
All states can benefit from
renewable energy whether you live in a state with a strong wind or solar resource
or not. The wind industry alone supports 73,000 Americans with good
family-supporting jobs. Up to 20,000 of those are manufacturing jobs spread over 43 states in 500 factories across the
The Wind Vision report ,
released by the U.S. Department of Energy last year, states that wind energy
could supply 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and up to 30
percent by 2050. The manpower required to achieve the 20 percent goal would
create an additional380,000 jobs for
the U.S. economy. There are thousands of jobs in the solar industry as
well. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports more than 208,000 employees in installation,
manufacturing, sales, project development and other jobs. And in 2015,
solar employment grew 12 times faster than the overall U.S. economy.
According to the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, wind technicians are America’s fastest growing
profession. The Department of Labor expects the field to grow by 108
percent over the next 10 years. As wind energy continues to grow, so too will
the manufacturing, operations and maintenance, and other jobs. This means that
wind energy is a cash crop that the entire nation can benefit from, not just
those fortunate to live in the wind belt.
Thanks to the growing U.S.
manufacturing sector, a majority of the value of wind turbines are sourced
domestically today. The steel industry is one industry with a big potential for
growth. Most of today’s modern turbines use rolled steel towers.
The Wind Vision report
states that for us to reach 35 percent wind energy by 2050, we would need to
build 404 gigawatts (404,000 megawatts) of cumulative capacity. At 127
tons of steel per megawatt of installed wind capacity, according to the 2001
U.S. Geological Survey, that’s a lot of steel.
Wind further bolsters the
manufacturing industry with the over 8,000 component parts that are needed in modern wind turbines. From
the bolts larger than your hand, to nacelles the size of a school bus, 60
percent of the value of a wind farm is made in America.
Wind energy costs have fallen by
two-thirds in the past six years, making it a cost-effective source of clean
electricity; and the cost of solar has dropped 53 percent since 2010. As a
result of technological advancements, improved economics, and environmental
regulations, our nation is in the midst of transitioning toward renewable
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This is a movement that should be
embraced. Our environment is providing free harvestable resources to feed
our hungry appetite for electricity. And, there are lots of great jobs entering
the economy as a result.
This article was first written for and appeared in Morning Consult.
Photo: Dennis Schwartz