The American wind power industry emerged from 2018 stronger than ever, now able to power 30 million American homes after 8 percent capacity growth last year. The newly released US Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2018 reveals that US wind power supports a record 114,000 American jobs, over 500 domestic factories, and more than USD 1 billion a year in revenue for states and communities that host wind farms. American Wind Energy Association leaders announced the news at the Greater Houston Partnership, the chamber of commerce for the nation’s energy capitol. Wind power is big business for Texas, which ranked first for installed wind power capacity and wind jobs last year. In Texas and across the nation, Fortune 500 brands and utilities alike purchased a record amount of new wind energy last year through long-term contracts, contributing to a record pipeline of wind capacity under construction or advanced stages of development.
Mr Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA said that “Wind power’s record-breaking year shows our industry is leading the way to a cleaner, stronger 21st Century U.S. economy. America’s least expensive source of new electricity generation is also clean and inexhaustible, which gives our economy an edge in the global marketplace. We’re proud to report the wind industry employs a record number of Americans, supports a robust domestic manufacturing sector with over 500 factories, and contributes over a billion dollars a year to states and rural communities.”
There are wind farms or factories supplying the industry in all 50 states, but no state exemplifies these trends better than Texas. The Lone Star State is home to roughly a quarter of all U.S. wind power capacity. If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world for wind power capacity with nearly 25,000 megawatts (MW) installed. And with nearly 7,000 MW of additional wind projects under construction or in advanced development at the end of 2018, Texas is adding more wind than all but two other states currently have installed.
Texas’s leadership in wind capacity means it also leads in wind industry jobs and investment. Texas is the top state for direct and indirect wind industry jobs, with more than 25,000 Texans working in the industry. Wind farms in Texas have drawn over USD 46 billion in total capital investment to date and pay approximately USD 307 million each year in landowner payments plus state and local taxes.
Mr Kiernan added that “Texas continues to lead the nation, with hard work and ingenuity, in harnessing this great American renewable energy resource, literally out of thin air. Texas has a long and storied history of energy production and as today’s report demonstrates, wind is an important part of the state’s energy success story. In many ways, the Texas wind story is the story of American wind power.”
Wind farms pay USD 1.05 billion a year through state and local taxes plus lease payments to landowners, the most complete picture yet of the value wind farms pay into rural communities. To arrive at USD 1 billion, AWEA quantified the never-before reported USD 761 million a year paid by wind farms in state and local taxes that help communities improve their school systems, fix roads and fund emergency services. An additional USD 289 million a year in wind farm land lease payments serve as a valuable drought-proof cash crop for American farmers and ranchers that can help keep a farm in the family. Most of these revenues go to rural areas, where 99 percent of America’s wind generating capacity can be found.
Mr Kiernan said that “Communities across Texas and the nation feel the benefits wind power delivers. Wind farm revenue enabled Blackwell Consolidated Independent School District, located near Abilene, Texas, to build a new school building, buy new technology, and provide scholarships worth $36,000 to students attending 1st through 12th grades. And that’s just one of the more than 100 districts in Texas that have seen the benefits of wind power in their community.”
Wind power is contributing to a boom in American renewable energy jobs: wind turbine service technician is the second fastest growing job in the U.S. after solar installer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. added 8,500 wind power jobs last year, including well-paying jobs in wind turbine service, construction, engineering and manufacturing. Veterans are hired for many of these jobs, at a rate that is 67 percent higher than the national average, because America’s servicemembers have the skills needed to operate rugged machinery in the field under tough conditions to keep energy reliably flowing to homes and businesses. There are also 24,000 manufacturing jobs found at over 500 U.S. factories supplying the wind industry.
Source : STRATEGIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, STEELGURU