Rising Demand for Wind Energy Drives Economic Growth, Job Creation
Since 2010, wind energy has doubled in the United States. Today, there are nearly 98 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity online – with more than 57,000 turbines generating clean, sustainable energy in 41 states and two U.S. territories.
This year alone, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts the wind industry will bring 11 gigawatts (GW) of power online – the largest amount of new capacity installed in a year since 2012. We can expect another 8 GW of wind to come online in 2020. This means wind generation will account for 9 percent of total U.S. electric capacity as we enter the next decade.
Big Businesses Invest in Wind Power
What’s driving this growth, exactly? Consumer demand. But not the eco-minded small business owners and homeowners who you might expect. It’s the Fortune 500 businesses and utility companies that have fueled record-breaking wind farm development in Q2 of this year.
Although it will be a few years before many of these wind projects are turned on, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that there are nearly 42 GW of wind projects under construction in the U.S. This includes more than 200 projects across 33 states, reports AWEA’s CEO Tom Kiernan.
Compared to the first half of 2018, wind capacity is up 10 percent, including first-time buyers like Ernst & Young, Crown Holdings, Hormel Foods and Smithfield Foods. Repeat customers for the second quarter included giants like General Mills, Target and Walmart. These non-utility companies accounted for 52 percent of the Q2 long-term contracts for wind energy, while the remaining 48 percent came from utilities.
“Access to affordable, clean American wind power is a competitive advantage in the eyes of business leaders,” Kiernan said in a statement. “And when those businesses invest in U.S. wind energy, it directly benefits the people living and working in our country’s farm, factory, and port communities.”
Top Wind-Producing States
Worldwide, the U.S. is the second-largest producer of wind energy in the world, with 97,960 megawatts (MW) of capacity installed. Texas has the most wind power online by a longshot, with nearly 24,900 MW installed at the end of 2018 – enough to power 6 million homes.
Here’s how the top 10 states measure up:
- Texas: 24,899 MW
- Iowa: 8,422MW
- Oklahoma: 8,072 MW
- California: 5,885MW
- Kansas: 5,653 MW
- Illinois: 4,861 MW
- Minnesota: 3,779 MW
- Colorado: 3,706 MW
- Oregon: 3,213 MW
- North Dakota: 3,155 MW
Economic Growth and Job Creation
In its 2018 Annual Market Report, the AWEA highlighted the economic benefits associated with wind generation. Throughout the U.S., wind farms pay more than $1 billion each year through state and local taxes, as well as lease payments to landowners. Taxes help stimulate local economies, while land lease payments help farmers and ranchers sustain their way of life in rural communities across the nation.
Jobs are another huge boon to the economy. The wind industry supports more than 114,000 jobs in America, with a massive potential for growth as more offshore wind facilities begin development. In July, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo approved two offshore wind farms – the largest procurement by any state in the U.S. The three projects will total about 9,000 MW of wind capacity, slated for completion by 2035. These projects alone will create more than 1,600 jobs and generate $3.2 billion in economic activity.
In Texas, employment predictions reveal that renewable energy will provide the most job growth for Texas residents over the next several years. Due to the Lone Star State’s massive wind capacity – and opportunity for much more – the industry will employ a range of workers, from manufacturing to site development to turbine maintenance. Wind turbine technicians, the second-fastest-growing jobs in America, will be in especially high demand across Texas – from now until at least 2026.
With wind energy projected to grow 12 percent nationwide in 2019, and 14 percent in 2020, we can anticipate more career opportunities in this sector, and more economic growth in the coming years.
Now is the time to get involved in the exciting world of wind power! If you’re looking for a new or different career, start by creating your free professional profile on Clean Energy Jobs List today. Then keep an eye out for opportunities in your desired area.