Please click on the bottom link to read her entire analysis. It is enlightening…
The American Wind Energy Association (‘AWEA’) claims big wind had a spectacular 2015, but we looked past the slick advertising and found the same boastful AWEA rhetoric, this time with extra pixie dust applied….
The industry touted 15,000 jobs added in 2015 bringing the total to 88,000, including 1,800 new manufacturing positions.
Impressed? Don’t be.
For one, AWEA continues to be the primary source of wind-related employment statistics so it’s impossible to validate the claims. Second, the figure represents modeled, not actual jobs, and typical for AWEA, it bundles all types of jobs into the one number including direct, indirect and induced. The induced wind job belongs to the guy who landed part-time work serving coffee at the local diner to transient wind workers at a nearby construction site.
These figures are more abstract and inherently unreliable but a convenient way to inflate job numbers. If Navigant’s 2011 wind study is any indication, induced jobs likely represent up to 26% of AWEA’s 2015 job number.
The table below shows how AWEA’s total and manufacturing job numbers have expanded and contracted since 2007.
Year Jobs: Total Jobs: Mfr MW Installed
2015 88,000 21,000 8,598
2014 73,000 19,200 4,854
2013 50,500 17,400 1,084
2012 80,700 25,500 13,131
2011 75,000 30,000 6,810
2010 75,000 20,000 5,212
2009 85,000 18,500 9,997
2008 85,000 20,000 8,363
2007 50,000 10,000 5,258
**Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and AWEA annual wind market reports
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has started tracking some wind-related jobs which helps add context. For example, AWEA pitched that wind turbine service technicians now represent the fastest growing occupation in the U.S. BLS data concurs, but also states (and AWEA ignores) that “few people are employed as wind turbine service technicians, and even with the fast projected growth rate (108%), the occupation is only projected to add 4,800 new jobs” by 2024. Wind service technicians numbered 4,400 in 2014. “In contrast,” BLS adds, “maintenance and repair workers, general, is projected to increase 6.1 percent but add 83,500 new jobs.”
When stacked against employment in the electric power generation sector, wind represents just 2% of all jobs with fossil and nuclear dominating at 91%. On a per megawatt basis, wind offers just 0.05 full-time positions.
Finally, if AWEA publicly released its breakdown of direct and indirect jobs, we’re likely to find the 15,000 new positions did not translate into net job creation for 2015….
Demand for electricity in the US has declined 5 out of the last 8 years and, overall, has dropped 4.4% since 2008. If economic market signals mean anything, no one should be building new generation except to replace retiring capacity units. Since wind is an energy, not a capacity resource, it’s not the right fit for replacing retirements, no matter what AWEA hopes the public will believe.
But for big wind, the economics don’t matter. Thanks to federal subsidies, RPS mandates and long-term power purchase agreements, developers are paid to construct turbines regardless of power market signals. In this scenario, the only economic concern is whether there’s a buyer for a project’s power long-term. As long as the 30% federal investment tax credit is an option, finding the best wind resource with adequate transmission capacity isn’t even that important….