The AWEA Recently announced that in November of 2015, the United States reached the 70 gigawatts production milestone for the first time in its history. This is great news for an industry that had plateaued over the last couple years with the uncertainty created by the government and clean energy tax credits. The 50 and 60 gigawatt levels were achieved back in 2012. 2013 proved to be slower year for new wind energy projects, but that has changed in 2014, with over 8.3 billion dollars invested.
Better Times Ahead
The momentum for 2015 and beyond is increasing for many reasons. The first is the extensions of the Production Tax Credit and alternate Investment Tax Credit by Congress, which gives stability and predictability to the industry through at least 2019. These credits make new wind energy projects more affordable, encouraging investment.
Another big reason is that wind energy prices have reached all time lows. In order to be competitive in the energy market, wind energy has to make financial sense for the organizations buying and investing in energy. With wind energy prices the lowest they have ever been, they are very competitive economically on the market.
More Progress to be Made
While 70 gigawatts of energy production is a great milestone for a budding industry, there is still a long way to go before wind energy is a viable alternative for U.S. residents. At this point, energy produced by wind makes up only 5% of total U.S. energy consumption – meaning there is still great long-term potential for increases in wind energy production.
If you are considering a career as a Wind Turbine Technician, you are in luck, because this career path is projected to be the fastest growing job through 2024.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number Wind Turbine Technician jobs will more than double over the next 8-10 years:
There are only about 4,400 such workers now, and the federal agency expects the jobs to increase 108 percent, to 9,200 workers.
The growth is largely due to the expansion of wind energy through new installations of wind turbines, but also the ongoing maintenance needed for these machines as they are installed.
In a surprising bit of news this week, the United States Congress has extended the Renewable Energy Tax Credit through 2021. Officially called the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), these credits were set to expire at the end of 2016, at which point the 30% tax credit would drop down to 10%. This looming deadline had been creating a lot of uncertainty in the solar and wind industries as companies rushed to complete as many projects as possible before the deadline. This extension adds some much needed stability to a growing industry.