New wind manufacturing facilities: coming to a town near you

Even though the US has been the world leader in electricity-generating wind capacity for decades, many components of wind turbines—items such as generators, blades, and gear boxes—have historically been manufactured overseas. In fact, as recently as 2005, three quarters of manufacturing for the US wind industry was done on foreign soil. However, in recent years, explosive U.S. wind industry growth has amplified the demand for turbine imports, creating a supply shortage. As a result, a substantial increase in domestic wind manufacturing has occurred. According to the US Department of Energy, 68% of turbine parts are now made in the USA.

What has accounted for this change, besides growth in the industry? Many of the world’s largest wind manufacturing companies are recognizing the potential in the US market and opening new plants in the Midwest in order to be close to areas of high demand. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) 20% Wind by 2030 report card, 65 new facilities have opened in the past two years alone. These new plants are creating jobs and bringing new life to manufacturing towns hit hard by the 2008-09 recession. Also, our workforce is gaining greater know-how: over 100 colleges and universities have now developed course work geared toward teaching students how to build and install turbines.

Being able to produce turbine parts domestically is a huge boon for the U.S. wind industry. It lowers transportation costs, allows the industry to take advantage of  US workers’ long history of manufacturing expertise, and spurs investment in US wind companies. These benefits are the reason that passing a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) is such a priority for our nations wind industry: an RES would create market certainty and thereby encourage manufacturers to keep building plants in the US. That’s why we’re rooting hard for Congress to pass an RES in fall 2010. Contact your Senator or Representative today!

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