What’s new in wind energy for 2019? The forecast is promising. There is an increase in both onshore and offshore development projects. Many more powerful wind turbines are popping up across the nation and even out at sea. Several states are ramping up their capacity to generate electricity from wind. It looks as if policymakers, investors and developers are starting to think outside of their comfort zones. This is great news for clean energy enthusiasts and our environment.
Costs are Dropping
Wind energy used to be costly. Now, wind energy is one of the cheapest sources of generating electricity. In fact, wind energy today costs 69 percent less than it did in 2009. Modern turbines can generate much more power at a lower cost. Projects costs are falling, and this trend is continuing. According to the DOE (Department of Energy) what once cost 7 cents/kWh for power purchase agreements in 2009, has now dropped even further to about 2 cents/kWh. The offshore wind industry is about to bloom, big time. There is potential to generate more than 2,000 gigawatts of power. That number is almost double our nation’s current electricity use. To get an idea of how many utility-scale wind turbines 2,000 gigawatts of power is, check this out: four hundred thirty-one utility-scale wind turbines are equal to 1 gigawatt of power. Of course, this technology is evolving quickly, and wind turbines are becoming more powerful.
Coastal states like Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island are driving the offshore wind industry on the east coast. And out west, California is researching floating wind turbine structures. Floating wind structures are vital to the wind industry because it enables these structures to be placed further out into the ocean, where the potential to generate clean electricity from wind is high.
The Forecast is Looking Good for the Wind Energy Job Sector
New wind industry projects mean lots of new jobs. Construction and operating jobs are on the horizon, and these are well-paying jobs. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the second fastest-growing job in the U.S. is a wind energy technician. Right now, there are wind jobs in all 50 states. Land-based wind industry jobs already support over 114,000 American jobs, and it’s continuing to grow. There are over 500 factories in the U.S. for building wind-related parts, and these factories are employing Americans.
Texas leads the nation in producing the most wind power. In fact, Texas’ wind capacity is at least three times more than the runner-up, Iowa. Of course, oil is still king in Texas, but things are starting to change. The rise of jobs and the need for clean energy is evident. Along with operational roles, there are numerous manufacturing facilities and component suppliers in Texas. With the advancement of offshore and onshore wind farms, the job market potential in Texas is enormous.
The east coast is embracing the wind industry, especially with regards to offshore wind farms. A study by the Clean Energy States alliance found that even 8 gigawatts of offshore wind from Maryland to Maine can create over 36,000 full-time jobs over the next ten years. Everyone can benefit from the wind industry. The offshore wind industry is poised to revitalize ports and coastal communities, and it will deliver reliable, clean energy to some of America’s most populated areas. It’s a win-win situation.
Farmers and ranchers in rural America are embracing wind turbine placement on their property. There are significant advantages, for one, it’s a reliable, drought-resistant cash crop. Plus, there’s lots of money to be made from leasing out space for wind turbines. Landowners can receive up to $8,000 per year for a single wind turbine lease on their property. So, landowners able to host several hundred wind turbines can cash in on the growing demand for clean energy.
What to Expect
Floating wind turbines. As mentioned earlier, we can expect to see wind turbines far out at sea. They’ll be floating because the water is too deep for a fixed, solid foundation. As of now, there are operational floating wind farms in Hywind, Scotland, with five turbines generating a total capacity of 30 MW. The other, in Japan, has four floating wind turbines with a combined capacity of 16 MW. Northern California is poised to become the home of America’s first floating wind farm.
Cleaner energy support from corporations. Corporations are purchasing more and more renewable energy every year. Did you know that Facebook has committed to 100% clean energy by the year 2020? Facebook plans to do this by opting for more wind and solar power. Facebook purchased more than 7 GW of renewables in 2018, compared to 5.4 GW in 2017.
Continued growth. There is always going to be wind blowing. Best of all, it’s free. With technological advancements, lower costs, and a thriving job market, the growth in wind power is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.
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