Wind Power Logistics: Creating New Jobs in All 50 States
Wind Power is the №1 source of renewable energy in the U.S., and its boom is responsible for all kinds of new economic growth.
Wind power is currently the number one renewable energy source in the United States. Its place at the top of the green energy revolution is the culmination of a decades-long promise that still yet to reach its full potential. As it continues to grow, the wind industry is helping to bring jobs and investment to all 50 states in America.
The wind energy boom began in earnest at the start of this century, as the move towards renewables entered the fore of public debate, alongside the rising cost of gas, American reliance on foreign oil, and increasing awareness about the drastic effects of climate change on the environment. Wind was seen, alongside solar and (more controversially) nuclear, as a promising option that could produce new, cleaner sources of energy. As wind farms began to spring up throughout the heartland of America (starting a trend that many hope will see the Rust Belt become the ‘Green Belt’), and as many privately owned farms began to install their own turbines, the benefits of wind power to the economy also became increasingly obvious.
While the transportation of turbine components saw an increase in revenue among shippers and freight forwarders — especially in ground support operations such as railroad and heavy-haul trucking — the logistics of wind turbine installation called for a more streamlined process, which eventually led to a huge spike in industry manufacturing jobs.
The installation of wind turbines is exceptionally complex. It includes “the selection of a turbine site; selecting the appropriate turbine design; acquiring all of the materials needed for production and fabrication; manufacturing each component; transporting sizeable components to installation sites; installing turbine components; connecting the turbine to the appropriate electrical grid; and maintaining each component throughout the lifetime of the turbine.”
This process — along with the sheer size of many of the individual components, and the special handling required for them — necessitated the move towards local manufacturing of parts.
The effect that this has had on the job market and the economy has been no small side benefit. 2016 saw nearly 15,000 new jobs created in the wind industry, which currently employs 102,500 people across all 50 states (with Texas being the national leader in both industry jobs as well as wind power usage). That number is expected to increase in the coming years.
Recently released analysis has shown that U.S. jobs in wind will grow to 248,000 by 2020, generating over $85 billion in economic activity. 114,000 of those jobs will be in turbine manufacturing, while an additional 102,000 will be in industry support positions.
Wind is also a major area of corporate investment, with companies such as General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, and Google turning to wind to meet renewable energy standards, while Amazon and IKEA have invested in their very own wind farms.
As questions remain as to the direction of American energy policy under the new Presidential administration and Congress, it would make sense to look towards the success of wind as a partial guide. Many of the arguments concerning energy policy get stuck weighing environmental impact against economic impact. Wind shows that these concerns need not be diametrically opposed. Like Bob Dylan once sang: the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind…
Originally published at www.speakinglogistics.com on March 16, 2017.