Renewable energy is always a topic of interest for anyone concerned about the future of our planet, and some interesting news has emerged recently. According to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2016, for the very first time, the wind industry produced more power than hydroelectric sources.
The country’s water dams have been the foremost source of renewable energy for years, whereas wind energy has been a rapidly expanding area as well. In fact, wind energy production has tripled since 2008 and continues to grow.
According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2015, hydroelectric sources generated 78,956 megawatts of energy, whereas wind energy was able to produce a staggering 82,183 megawatts in 2016. This amount of energy can power 24 million average American homes.
One of the reasons behind the high production levels is that wind energy has benefitted from technological advances over the years. This includes improved design of the structures. Taller turbines and longer blades can harvest energy from more types of wind than older structures.
The increased efficiency in harvesting energy has contributed towards making wind energy the biggest source of renewable energy in the United States. Greater efficiency also means lower costs, which in turn, means household brands such as Walmart can buy low-cost wind energy and use it to cut costs for powering their business.
According to Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association, wind power in the United States will double over the next five years and will supply 10 percent of the U.S. with electricity by 2020.
Buying low-cost wind energy also helps to make other industries more competitive, and building wind turbines is already big business. In 2016, more than seven manufacturing units across the country expanded their facilities to keep up with the increasing orders.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind power is responsible for employing more people than nuclear, coal, hydroelectric and natural gas combined. The wind industry provides jobs for approximately 100,000 workers, and this figure continues to grow every year.
The United States currently has approximately 52,000 individual wind turbines and the industry is responsible for the employment of over 100,000 Americans, who help to manufacture and maintain the turbine fleet in the United States. Across 43 states, there are over 500 factories, and 40 of these wind manufacturing facilities are located in Texas.
The Department of Labor has projected that over the next ten years, the role of wind service technicians will be the fastest-growing occupation in the United States.
Benefits for Rural Belt
Power development brings with it huge benefits to the rural parts of the nation because wind projects in these areas are usually the largest contributors of tax, helping to improve public services such as roads, schools and more. In 2016, out of the $13.8 billion USD invested by the U.S. wind industry, $10.5 billion USD was invested in areas with low-income counties.
According to Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, “Growing this made-in-the-USA clean energy resource helps rural communities pay for new roads, bridges and schools.”
Kiernan added that it also helps bring back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt, which refers to the rural parts of the country. Manufacturing jobs in the wind industry often involve monitoring large machines as is seen in the construction industry, where a technician is often in charge of supervising a universal milling machine.
Higher level executives within the wind industry say that the industry will help build new infrastructure in the form of transmission lines, which will carry wind power all over the country. It will also be responsible for giving manufacturing a boost and will help create further jobs in some rural areas of the country.
Not only has wind energy topped the list of renewable energy sources in the U.S., but it is also an excellent source of employment for those who need it the most. This is because 99% of wind projects are based in rural areas. This means that investment will flow to the areas which can really benefit from it.
Wind turbines bring financial support to farmers and ranchers who own land and are able to host wind turbines on it. This drought-resistant source of employment is a welcome option for these farmers. Across the country, wind projects have provided private landowners with over $222 million USD in land lease payments every year.
The continued rise of wind power will only bring more employment opportunities and further prosperity for those who will benefit from it the most.
Rise of Wind Power in Europe
Apart from the United States, wind power has shown its potential in other parts of the world as well. A report by a European industry trade group shows that wind has surpassed coal to become a major source of energy in Europe.
This is the first time this has happened. In 2015, wind farms were the most common source of energy in Europe’s power generation network and today, wind is the largest source of energy in Europe, after natural gas.
Wind energy has surpassed hydroelectric energy, topping the list of renewable energy sources in the United States. Not only is the rise of wind power good for big businesses who can use it to cut costs, but it is also of great benefit to the rural belt of the country, bringing jobs and prosperity to people who need it the most. The coming years are sure to bring increased expansion of this source of energy and with it, further benefits and prosperity.
Rachel Oliver is a freelancer who has a way with words. She likes to write about anything and everything under the sun, but themes like machine & technology, electronics & gadgets, interests her more. You can get in touch with her on Google+, Twitter.