BLS Sees Big Opportunities in Wind Industry
Wind farms are spread across most of the United States, and wind turbine manufacturing operations are spread even more widely, according to maps in a new report posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wind energy installations and power generation from wind farms are still rising, domestically and internationally, serving as a bright spot now and in the future for American engineers, construction workers, and managers, according to a new report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For all of the understandable concern about lost U.S. manufacturing jobs and high unemployment, there are jobs now and will be more jobs soon for those trained to fill them, economists James Hamilton and Drew Liming assert in their "Careers in Wind Energy" report. Both work in the BLS Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections.
The report includes maps showing the locations of U.S. wind farms and wind turbine manufacturing operations; charts showing projected salaries of the jobs this industry creates during construction, management, and maintenance of wind power operations; and descriptions of those jobs. Engineers are needed for offices, laboratories, and industrial plants, for example. The report cites the need for aerospace engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, environmental engineers, and health and safety engineers.
"Civil engineers," it explains, "design and supervise the construction of many parts of wind farms, including roads, support buildings, and other structures such as the tower and foundation portions of the wind turbine. Because of the scale of wind turbines, these engineers must deal with some atypical problems, such as designing roads that can withstand very heavy loads as well as trailers that are up to 100 feet long. Since many wind farms are located in the Midwest and western States, they have to consider potential hazards ranging from extreme winds and cold temperatures to earthquakes." It says health and safety engineers are needed to "identify and measure potential hazards of wind turbines, and implement systems that ensure safe manufacture and operation. They usually recommend appropriate loss-prevention measures according to the probability of harm or damage."
The report cites American Wind Energy Association figures showing installed wind energy capacity in the United States was below 3,000 megawatts in 2000 but now exceeds 35,000 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power 9.7 million homes, and says the growth is accelerating.
While Texas, Iowa, and California lead in generating capacity, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Washington, and other states are "substantially increasing their wind-generating capacity," they report.