The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States has revealed that the country’s fastest growing occupation is a wind turbine technician. Data from 2016 shows that over 100,000 people were employed in the U.S. wind industry and that this industry continues to flourish. Compared to other industries, this sector has a job growth that’s nine times greater than other industries in the country. It’s great to see that the renewable energy industry is gaining momentum, but with Donald Trump in charge it’s unclear whether the wind industry will be allowed to expand.
Growth of the Wind Industry
In the U.S., the first offshore wind farm was installed on Rhode Island. Then the wind industry spread to the Midwest and Plains states where they became a primary source of new energy installations. In Texas there are approximately 12,000 wind turbines that contribute to the nation’s energy grid. Their wind turbines generate over a quarter of the country’s wind energy.
According to the chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Tom Kiernan, “getting over 100,000 jobs in wind is an important milestone.” Wind power is no longer a niche industry; it has proven to operate efficiently on a large scale. Kiernan says, “we are reliably and affordably contributing to the grid.” AWEA’s annual report for 2016 proudly announced that for the first time, the U.S. had more than 100,000 people working in the wind industry. Their annual report also said that the wind industry has grown in double digits over the past year.
The industry is expected to provide about 5,000 more jobs in the next few years. Compared to other industries this may not be a lot, but in the renewable energy realm this means that the industry is growing. Wind turbine technicians make an average salary of $51,000 per year and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this number to more than double between 2014 and 2024.
Will Trump Hinder the Growth of the Wind Industry?
Unfortunately, Trump seems to be against the progress of the wind industry. In an interview with the New York Times he said, “The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies… we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me.” In a 2012 Twitter post Trump also called wind turbines “an environmental and aesthetic disaster”.
Despite Trump’s rejection of wind turbines, Kiernan argues that the wind industry has progressed enough that they can now flourish without existing tax incentives. Wind turbines are now cheaper and more efficient to produce. Kiernan hopes to see the sector supported by the president who has repeatedly said that he’s committed to creating jobs for Americans. Thankfully there are members of Trump’s administration that are in favor of the industry’s growth. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are optimistic and want to enhance the wind sector.
The wind industry continues to grow and contribute to the U.S. energy grid. According to the Energy Information Administration, the wind industry contributed about 5.5% of overall energy generation in 2016. Compared to coal and natural gas (which produces almost two-thirds of the country’s energy), the wind industry seems to bite the dust, but as a newer energy source it’s a great milestone for wind power. With more investment in wind technology, the industry has the potential to grow into a renewable energy source that will make a significant impact on the grid. Let’s just hope that Trump and other members of Congress won’t stand in its way.