Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm said something very interesting at the WINDPOWER 2009 conference yesterday. She said, "I continue to tell Michigan citizens that whenever you hear the words 'climate change' or 'global warming,' think jobs."
We couldn't agree more.
Regardless of your position on global warming, there's one thing that cannot be denied - any action on climate change will rely heavily on the integration of renewable energy. This will require a major transition of our energy infrastructure, which will definitely create new jobs.
Granholm was joined by governors from Iowa and Wisconsin too, as it is clear that a strong, domestic wind energy industry can provide employment for a lot of out-of-work midwesterners who already have a wealth of experience in manufacturing.
In Iowa, there are currently nine manufacturers producing components for wind projects, and in Wisconsin, there are now 200 companies supplying the wind industry. Kansas is also starting to see some significant development, most recently with Siemens AG (NYSE:SI). The German company announced yesterday that it will build a new wind turbine equipment factory in Hutchinson, Kansas. That factory will create about 400 jobs. Siemens already has a turbine blade plant in Ft. Madison, IA, and a new wind turbine research and development center in Colorado. Vestas (CPH:VWS) also has a blade manufacturing plant in Colorado (about 50 miles from Denver), and a new tower manufacturing factory scheduled to open later this year in Pueblo. When completed, that factory will churn out 900 towers per year, making it the largest wind tower manufacturing facility in the world.
The momentum behind wind energy development is back on track, thanks to a strong commitment from the government, in the form of tax credits and climate change legislation that will finally level the energy playing field a bit.
The DOE has indicated that the U.S. can meet 20 percent of its energy demand from wind by 2030. It's certainly a lofty goal, but one we believe will happen - and create a lot of jobs in the process.
Overall, the U.S. wind industry employed 85,000 people at the end of 2008. That's up from 35,000 people in 2007!