20% wind energy by 2030. According to the Department of Energy and the American Wind Energy Association, this staggering yet inspiring number is quite feasible. Not only would harnessing 20% of our energy from wind by 2030 mean a much cleaner environment, but it would also mean tremendous job growth. The US Department of Energy’s “20% wind energy by 2030” report finds if wind represented a fifth of America’s wind supply, over half a million domestic jobs could be created.

The wind industry creates jobs in manufacturing, construction, transportation, legal, financial, safety, and maintenance.

The manufacturing jobs created are varied and diverse. Every 1000 MW of wind power developed creates a potential for 3000 jobs in manufacturing, 700 jobs in installation and 600 in operations and maintenance according to a study conducted by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP). A wind turbine’s four main components (the tower, rotor, nacelle and controls, gearbox and drive train, and generator and power elextronics) are divided into 20 sub-components. Because each sub-component requires a vast level of technical expertise to manufacture, separate facilities are utilized to complete the job. This creates a variety of manufacturing jobs in the areas of measuring and controlling devices, ball and roller bearings, iron and steel fabrication, power transmission equipment, industrial commercial fans and blowers, printed circuits and electronics assemblies, plastics and rubber products and motors and generators.

Also, wind energy technicians are needed to assist with the construction and upkeep of turbines while wind research specialists are needed to use climatology to assess wind potential in various locations.

Direct wind industry job growth would also increase jobs in related industries. For instance, large-load transportation specialists are needed to transport the turbines from the manufacturing facility to the wind farm, while lawyers are needed to deal with legal fees and regulations associated with the turbines.

The largest number of jobs can be expected to occur in Texas, California, and the Great Lakes region where it is estimated that by 2030 30,000+ jobs a year will be created. Furthermore, with policy initiatives for wind in America becoming more stable and abundant in recent years, more and more companies are choosing to locate domestically instead of overseas. In the past two years, domestic wind manufacturing has doubled and over 50 new or expanded wind energy manufacturing plants have opened.

What’s especially encouraging about America’s wind industry growth is its capability to create more jobs than traditional energy sources.

The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California in Berkeley reports that the renewable energy sector generates more jobs per megawatt of power installed, per unit of energy produced, and per dollar of investment, than the fossil fuel-based energy sector.

How’s that for an argument to increase wind energy development in a time of economic downturn?