According to the latest figures released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. wind energy sector added jobs more than nine times faster than the overall U.S. economy last year.
The primary findings from the AWEA’s 2016 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report released on Wednesday 19 April, show that a total of 102,500 people are now employed by the industry.
Furthermore, the number of workers maintaining wind turbines is set to more than double between 2014 and 2024 – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the AWEA, said: “Thanks to another year of strong, steady growth, wind increasingly powers the U.S. economy, adding nearly 15,000 jobs just last year and bringing total wind industry employment to over 102,000 jobs across all 50 states.”
He went on to say: “By building new wind farms we are investing in rural and Rust Belt America. And last year, wind energy became America’s number one source of renewable generating capacity, further advancing U.S. energy security.”
The report also highlighted the benefits that the wind energy sector is having in the Upper Midwest of the country.
Wind power generates 26 per cent of Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas’ energy production, supporting over 18,000 jobs and providing $28 billion in private investment into the region.
Overall, more than 8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind generation was added in the U.S. last year, representing $14 billion in wind investments – the AWEA said.
Total U.S. wind capacity now stands at 82.14 GW, enough to power 24 million homes.
Navigant Consulting projects the wind energy sector will generate $85 billion in economic activity between now and 2020.
Kiernan said: “Bigger, better technology enables new wind turbines to generate 50 per cent more electricity than those built in 2009, and at 66 per cent lower cost.”
He added: “With stable policy in place, we’re on the path to reliably supply 10 per cent of U.S. electricity by 2020.”