ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THINKPROGRESS.COM
WRITTEN BY: NATASHA GEILING
Wind power had a big year in 2016 — but it risks an unpredictable future in the face of uncertain policy in the United States and in Europe.
In the United States, wind power achieved its second strongest quarter ever, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), surpassing hydropower to become the largest source of renewable electricity capacity in the United States. Overall, wind capacity now ranks fourth in the United States, behind coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
The wind sector also added 88,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy in 2015 — more than three times the 28,000 temporary construction jobs that the Trump administration claims would be created by constructing the Keystone XL pipeline (though reports suggest Trump’s estimate is likely grossly inflated). Wind turbine technician is currently the fastest growing job in the United States, and both wind and solar jobs are currently growing at rates faster than the U.S. economy, according to a report released last month by the Environmental Defense Fund. In 2016, for the first time, the number of U.S. jobs in renewable energy surpassed the number of jobs in oil drilling.
Capacity, while an important metric, is defined as the total amount of output a particular electricity generator can produce at a specific time, under specific conditions. Generation is the actual amount of electricity that is produced. And while renewables account for a large percentage of recently installed capacity, solar and wind still account for a small portion of total U.S. generation — 4.7 percent for wind and 0.6 percent for solar.
Wind also had a big year in Europe, with wind accounting for more than half of all new installed capacity for the first time ever. Renewable energy writ large accounted for nearly 90 percent of new power added in Europe last year, with 21.1 gigawatts of the total 24.5 new gigawatts installed coming from wind or solar, plus more controversial renewable technologies like biomass and hydropower. That new renewable capacity helped push wind past coal to become Europe’s second largest form of power capacity, though coal still is used to meet more of the continents electricity demand.
Germany led the charge in installing new wind capacity, installing nearly 44 percent of the total wind capacity installed in Europe in 2016. France installed the second most wind capacity, with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom ranking third and fourth, respectively.
But growth of wind and renewables faces an uncertain future, as fossil fuel-friendly politicians in the United States and Europe look to curtail policies aimed at bolstering renewable growth. In the United States, Trump has pledged an “America first” energy plan that involves extracting coal, natural gas, and oil from federal lands and offshore drilling sites, and has criticized wind for being too expensive and killing “all of the birds.” (In reality, energy costs are at a record low in the United States, thanks in part to the adoption of wind and solar technologies.) Despite his distaste for wind power, however, Trump did tell voters in Iowa during the campaign that he supported subsidies for wind, like the production tax credit.
The U.S. Congress agreed to extend both the production tax credit and the investment tax credit, meant for solar power, in 2015, and because renewable energy like solar and wind is big in both Republican and Democratic-controlled states, its often looked at as a bipartisan issue. Still, it’s unclear how much support these industries can expect from the Trump administration, whose policies focus on fuels like coal and oil much more than renewables.
In Europe, only seven of the European Union’s 28 member countries have clear plans to continue wind power growth through 2020, Giles Dickson, chief executive of WindEurope, told the Guardian.
“We today see less political and policy ambition for renewables than we did five or even three years ago, across the member states,” Dickson said.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, recent policies have made it more difficult to develop onshore wind by requiring that the land be identified as suitable for wind development in a Local or Neighborhood Plan. Most local plans were developed before this was required, however, meaning that many local plans don’t include wind energy — making it difficult to install more wind capacity.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: Total Health Magazine
WRITTEN BY: Hannah Hunt
In today‘s world, finding common ground is not always an easy task. But here’s one thing all Americans can agree on: we want to have clean air and a healthy economy. Because of technologies like wind energy, we don’t have to choose one over the other.
Growing wind power powers American job creation and economic development, while over time increasing U.S. energy independence by using a homegrown, emission-free electricity source.
America’s 100,000—strong wind power workforce
Over 100,000 Americans are employed by the wind industry today, across all 50 states. Many of these are manufacturing positions at the nation’s more than 500 factories that build the blades, towers, and other parts that go into wind turbines. Over 25,000 of these U.S. workers have well-paying jobs at wind manufacturing facilities, breathing new life into an economic sector that has struggled for decades.
“I’ve got very strong high moral and Christian values, and I think they line up very well with this kind of energy,” says Blake Kasper, a Quality Supervisor at Broadwind Energy in Abilene, Texas, where he helps build wind turbine towers. “There’s just so much work, orders keep pumping in. The opportunities are limitless.”
Importantly, many of these new manufacturing jobs are found across the Rust Belt, hiring workers where they’re needed the most. Ohio leads the way with 62 wind factories, while Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan boast 26 each.
And these jobs will continue growing. Wind manufacturing jobs will grow to 33,000 by the end of President Trump’s first term, according to recent analysis from Navigant consulting. Because 99 percent of wind farms are built in rural areas, many of the jobs that wind creates belong to those living in our country’s agricultural areas. This offers new career opportunities in communities where those can be scarce.
For example, a wind turbine technician is by far America’s fastest growing job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The profession is projected to grow by 108 percent over the next decade, far outpacing the next job on the list, occupational therapy assistant, only increasing by 42 percent. With nearly all of the country’s 52,000, and counting, wind turbines in rural areas, there is strong demand for more technicians to keep them running smoothly.
The U.S. wind industry also proudly offers good career opportunities to the men and women who serve our country— veterans find wind energy jobs at a rate 50 percent higher than the average industry.
This massive U.S. job creation will not stop anytime soon. By 2020, there could by 248,000 wind-related jobs according to Navigant Consulting.
Investing in rural America
You don’t need to have a wind job to realize the economic benefits of wind power, however. Wind farms bring new resources into rural areas in a nearly unmatched scale.
Nearly all of the country’s wind projects are built on private land, which means farmers and ranchers get lease payments in exchange for hosting wind turbines. These payments totaled $245 million in 2016 alone, and approximately $175 million of that total went to landowners in low-income counties. That number will keep increasing as the U.S. wind industry continues to grow.
Lease payments offer income farmers and ranchers can count on when commodity prices fluctuate or bad weather hurts the harvest. For many families, these payments can make the difference between continuing a multi-generation tradition and ending a way of life. That’s why some call wind energy their “drought-proof cash crop.”
However, entire communities benefit from these projects, not just wind farm landlords.
Wind farms are often a county’s largest taxpayers, so they add substantial revenue to the local budget. This income helps pay teacher salaries, fix roads and buy new ambulances. Navigant projects new wind projects will create $8 billion of added sales, income and property tax payments over just the next four years, on top of payments coming from projects that already exist. In all, wind will drive another $85 billion of economic activity between now and 2020.
“Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago,” the Omaha World-Herald recently reported.
Clean air, healthy communities
Wind energy provides all of these economic benefits while also playing a major role in creating cleaner air.
By reducing harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cause smog and trigger asthma attacks, wind created $7.3 billion in public health savings in 2015 alone. By 2050, wind could prevent a total of 22,000 premature deaths and save $108 billion in public health costs by reducing air pollution, according to the Department of Energy.
“Unhealthy air is hazardous to our families and even can threaten life itself,” according to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) Healthy Air Campaign. That is why the ALA has adopted as one of its goals the transition to a clean energy future, “to protect all people from the harm of air pollution.” Wind’s clean air role should grow in the years to come.
Today, the U.S. has enough installed wind capacity to power 24 million homes, and it is on track to supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020. Substantial job creation, billions of dollars of economic investment and clearer air—American wind power helps us create the healthy economy and environment we all want.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: AWEABLOG.ORG
The average growth rate for all occupations is seven percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for wind turbine technicians?
It’s 108 percent.
That means the amount of men and women employed fixing and maintaining wind towers will more than double between 2014 and 2024. There’s no denying it– wind techs are in demand.
What do wind turbine technicians do?
“Each turbine can be viewed like an airplane on a stick,” says Daniel Lutat of Iowa Lakes Community College (one of the country’s largest training schools for techs). Imagine the electrical, mechanical and communications systems of an airplane. Wind techs maintain and repair these complex technical elements, all while perched hundreds of feet in the air. Some of their main job tasks include:
- Testing and fixing electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems
- Collecting data
- Upkeep of other aspects of a wind facility, such as underground transmission
Some wind techs build new turbines, but most of their work involves maintaining ones that already exist. An area of particular importance lies within the nacelle, the portion that sits on top of the tower. This hub contains hundreds of parts that that come together to generate electricity.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: cleantechnica.com
The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of such beers as Corona, Budweiser, and Stella Artois, has announced it has committed to transitioning to a 100% renewable electricity future by 2025.
The maker of some of the world’s most beloved beers, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) announced this week a commitment to secure 100% of the company’s purchased electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. This works out to a total of 6 terawatt-hours of electricity annually across all its markets, and according to AB “will help transform the energy industry in countries like Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa.”
“Climate change has profound implications for our company and for the communities where we live and work,” said AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito. “Cutting back on fossil fuels is good for the environment and good for business, and we are committed to helping drive positive change. We have the opportunity to play a leading role in the battle against climate change by purchasing energy in a more sustainable way.”
AB InBev has committed to securing at least 75-85% of its renewable electricity through direct Power Purchase Agreements, with the remaining 15-25% primarily coming from on-site solar projects.
According to AB InBev, this new 100% renewable electricity commitment will make the company the world’s largest corporate direct purchase of renewable electricity in the consumer goods sector, and should result in lowering the company’s operational carbon footprint by 30% — essentially the equivalent of taking nearly 500,000 cars off the road.
“Before long, we will see every Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois made with 100% renewable power and it makes business sense, with financial savings, job creation and emissions cuts on offer,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at The Climate Group. “AB Inbev is significantly boosting demand for renewables around the world, showing just the kind of leadership we need to slow climate change and speed a low carbon economy, inspiring other companies right along the value chain.”
AB InBev has already signed its first Power Purchase Agreement with Spanish electric company Iberdrola for 490 gigawatt-hours of wind power per year in Mexico for its largest brewery, in Zacatecas. The move along will see Iberdrola build and install 220 megawatts of wind energy capacity onshore in the Mexican state of Puebla, with electricity generation commencing in the first half of 2019, helping to increase the country’s total wind and solar energy capacity by more than 5%.
“As the world’s greatest purchasers and users of energy, business and industries are best positioned to lead the shift from fossil fuel to renewables and reach the ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement”, said Jeanett Bergan, Head of Responsible Investments at KLP. “A clear message from corporates on a shift from fossil fuel to renewables is a language investors can understand. Collaboration among investors and owners of companies to push this agenda is most effective and powerful in driving the change.”