Into the Wind https://www.aweablog.org The AWEA Wind Energy Blog Wed, 27 May 2020 14:51:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://www.aweablog.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/cropped-favicon-1-32x32.png Into the Wind https://www.aweablog.org 32 32 Outgoing AWEA board chair Rob Caldwell reflects on a 40-year energy career https://www.aweablog.org/outgoing-awea-board-chair-rob-caldwell-reflects-on-a-40-year-energy-career/ Wed, 27 May 2020 14:48:16 +0000 http://www.aweablog.org/?p=17400 After 40 years in the power generation business, Rob Caldwell has seen a lot of change—technologies improve, customer preferences evolve, and policy drivers adapt to reflect the will of the people. As his tenure as AWEA Board Chair comes to a close and he nears retirement as President of Duke Energy Renewables, I had a chance to speak with Rob as he reflected on his career and gave insights on the grid of the future. And that vision holds a lot of promise for wind, solar and storage working together.

“It’s a hard decision for me to retire right now,” he told me. “Because even though we’ve seen tremendous growth, I think there is still tremendous growth ahead of us.”

From demonstration projects to a player on the grid

When Rob began working in natural gas four decades ago, renewables were still a novelty. Projects were expensive and unreliable, essentially demonstrations. Importantly, they also lacked customer demand and awareness.

In Rob’s experience, that remained the case until about 10 years ago, right around the time he moved into renewables. Back then, Rob was working at Progress Energy in North Carolina, and the state had just passed a 12.5 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Rob was put in charge of ensuring Progress Energy secured compliance with the new law, which meant developing, owning and operating renewable assets.

At first, there was concern Progress Energy wouldn’t be able to generate enough renewable kilowatt hours to comply without exceeding its price cap. But something remarkable happened—the cost of wind and solar started falling faster than anyone predicted. By 2015, Progress Energy ended up achieving RPS compliance through 2028 while having spent less than half its price cap. Rob led a renewables division that fairly quickly evolved from a compliance operation to a business operation, showing how rapidly the math changes when costs decline. He soon realized renewables weren’t just something needed to comply with a law—they could play a big role on the grid of the future.

“Renewables are just the next generation of generation,” Rob said.

“Clearly the three key drivers of this business are policy, technology and customer demand,” Rob told me. Policy jump-started the industry, technology improvements and cost declines brought wind and solar to scale, and now customer demand means power generation companies must have a foot in the renewable space.

“Our focus (at Duke Energy) is to be customer-centric,” Rob said. Corporate and industrial customers don’t want to be power generation companies—they want to be retailers, manufacturers and tech companies. That creates an opportunity for utilities like Duke to provide their expertise and offer the renewable energy Fortune 500 businesses are demanding.

What the future holds

As wind, solar and storage supply more of America’s electricity mix, Rob sees the grid evolving along with it. In fact, AWEA’s work on transmission expansion and market design was one of the program areas Rob found most compelling when he agreed to become board chair.

“You need a grid to get it from where the wind and solar resources are to where the load is,” he said. “I think wires are going be a critical enabler for (renewable) growth. I’m very bullish on the grid, both big wire and little wire.”

“The grid is a significant, important asset and will be for a long time to come. I think it will become smarter and optimized as more variable sources come online,” he said.

Rob sees a future where wind and solar supply ever-greater amounts of the country’s electricity, with storage helping to balance out shifts in supply.

“I just think it’s an amazingly interesting time to be in the power business,” he said.

We thank Rob for his service as Board Chair and hope he enjoys a well-deserved retirement!

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#AmericanWindWeek 2020: Wind Builds the Future https://www.aweablog.org/americanwindweek-2020-wind-builds-the-future/ Wed, 20 May 2020 11:31:53 +0000 http://www.aweablog.org/?p=17392 August is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to start planning for #AmericanWindWeek 2020, happening August 9-15. And to get your creative juices flowing, we’re happy to announce this year’s theme: Wind Builds the Future.

There are so many ways wind is building a better, cleaner future for all Americans:

  • The wind workforce is on the frontlines helping to keep the lights on every day.
  • Clean energy jobs and wind’s investment in rural America and the along the coastlines will play an important role in the post-pandemic economic recovery.
  • Companies are creating a new way of doing business by powering their factories, stores, restaurants, and data centers using wind– proving renewable energy is good for business and the environment.
  • Wind offers America’s veterans a prosperous path forward when they finish their service.
  • Champions at the state and federal level are putting in place supportive policies and committing to bold, achievable goals that will deliver affordable, reliable, clean energy to families and businesses.

There will be a dedicated day highlighting each of these future-building components during #AmericanWindWeek 2020.

Given the challenges our country is currently facing, #AmericanWindWeek 2020 will also look a little different this August. In prior years, in-person events at wind projects, manufacturing facilities, and host communities were the heart of #AmericanWindWeek. However, ongoing social distancing and other public health measures mean we need to take a different approach this go-round.

We’re pleased to announce #AmericanWindWeek 2020 is going all virtual. We’ll harness the power of social media and the digital world to showcase and thank our 120,000+ wind workers, highlight the many ways wind projects are strengthening local communities and aiding in the economic recovery, thank our wind champions, and much more. Send any ideas or suggestions our way at windweek@awea.org.

No matter how you look at it, wind is building a future powered by a strong economy and clean energy. Let’s let the world know during #AmericanWindWeek 2020.

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American wind power supports COVID-19 relief efforts in communities across the country https://www.aweablog.org/american-wind-power-supports-covid-19-relief-efforts-in-communities-across-the-country/ Fri, 24 Apr 2020 13:52:47 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17378 Our society and economy continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 presents. Ensuring the wind energy workforce’s safety and protecting U.S. wind jobs remains the top priority, and when the economy can safely reopen, wind power stands ready to play a leading role in the recovery.

However, communities across the country are struggling right now, and the U.S. wind industry is doing its part to aid in the recovery effort.

Companies like Avangrid, NextEra Energy, Enel North America, Duke Energy and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy have made seven figure contributions to recovery efforts. EDP Renewables, Hannon Armstrong, DTE Energy and Apex Clean Energy are aiding efforts at the local level to ensure food security, adequate housing, PPE access, and small business security, among other initiatives. In New Mexico, Pattern Energy and Blattner Energy have teamed with Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham to create the All Together New Mexico fund to address recovery work in the state, while the GE Renewable Energy team is using its enhanced manufacturing knowledge to produce 3D printed N95 face mask shields.

Fostering strong partnerships with local host communities is essential for the success of American wind power. Companies take great pride in creating well-paying local jobs and strengthening economies in the communities where they live and work. The commitment to being a good neighbor and local partner is more important than ever, and U.S. wind power is stepping up and giving back during this unprecedented time of need. Learn more about wind-led relief initiatives here, and please contact Greg Alvarez if your company is partnering in COVID-19 relief efforts.

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Fact check: New Michael Moore-backed Planet of the Humans full of errors, fundamentally misunderstands electric system https://www.aweablog.org/fact-check-new-michael-moore-backed-documentary-full-of-errors-fundamentally-misunderstands-electric-system/ Wed, 22 Apr 2020 18:58:58 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17373 A new Michael Moore-backed documentary has been released that examines the climate crisis and the lack of progress made so far in combating the problem. Unfortunately, and somewhat strangely, the filmmakers chose to focus much of their attention erroneously critiquing a leading climate solution—renewable energy.

The reality is wind and solar today are already avoiding substantial amounts of carbon emissions, and the potential to cut even more CO2 emissions is enormous. Today wind avoids 42 million cars’ worth of carbon pollution a year, and that number will steadily grow as wind’s near-record pipeline of projects in development comes online. The book Drawdown is a comprehensive examination of 100 different solutions to climate change, with input from more than 100 of the world’s foremost climate researchers. It finds landbased wind power is the second most effective way to reduce emissions, and offshore wind ranks 22nd on the list

Let’s set the record straight on where this film gets it wrong. See this article for an in-depth look at the film’s problematic portrayal of solar power.

A misunderstanding of the power system

No electricity source runs 100 percent of the time, including coal, gas, and nuclear plants in addition to wind and solar. Conventional power plants need to go offline for maintenance or other unexpected reasons. In Texas, coal piles flooded during Hurricane Harvey and became frozen during cold spells, rendering coal plants inoperable. In fact, during Polar Vortex weather events in 2019 and 2014, and the Bomb Cyclone event in 2018, conventional power plants experienced widespread failures because of the extreme cold.

Grid operators have decades of experience managing these changes in supply and demand, and it’s proven that sudden, unexpected outages at large conventional power plants are more costly and difficult to manage than the gradual, predictable changes in wind and solar output. Because of the balancing efforts grid operators undertake, it’s simply untrue that fossil fuel reserves run around the clock for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, as the documentary falsely claims.

Along these lines, the documentary attacks Apple, the Tesla Gigafactory and others for claiming they run on renewable energy. However, the film again misunderstands how the power system works. The electricity grid can be thought of like an ATM. When a corporate buyer of wind energy says it’s buying enough wind to power a data center for example, that doesn’t necessarily mean the electricity generated by a wind farm feeds directly into the data center.

Say you deposit $20 in the ATM near your office. A short time later, you withdraw it from the ATM near your house. You now have a different bill than the one you deposited, but that’s irrelevant; you still have $20. This aspect of the banking system is analogous to how the electric power system works: it aggregates all sources of electricity supply and demand over a large geographic area, allowing one to add wind energy in one area and use an equivalent amount of electricity somewhere else on the grid.

Wrong on carbon footprints and lifecycle impacts

At several points in the documentary, filmmakers bizarrely criticize the materials used to build wind turbines and solar panels and claim that emissions generated to build renewable energy projects are greater than the carbon reduction benefits the projects will create.

This is simply false.

The average wind project repays its carbon footprint in less than six months and generates zero carbon electricity for the remainder of its 20 to 30 year lifespan. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reviewed all published research on this topic and concluded that wind energy’s carbon footprint is a fraction of all fossil fuels’ and even lower than nuclear and most other renewable energy sources. Every study by utilities, independent power system operators, and government entities has found those pollution reductions are as large or larger than expected.

Wind turbines are primarily made of steel and concrete, as the documentary notes, but so is nearly every man-made structure in modern society. Cars, buildings, sidewalks, and countless other structures, not to mention conventional power plants, are also constructed using steel and concrete. Nor do U.S. wind turbines use significant amounts of rare earth materials as the film portrays—over 95 percent of the U.S. wind turbine fleet uses gearboxes rather than direct drive machines, which means rare earths are not used.

Wind and Solar’s impact on fossil fuel use

The film’s claim that wind and solar energy is “not replacing fossil fuels” is  patently false. While 13,703 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired capacity was retired in 2019, more wind power capacity was added to the grid than any other generation technology. Together, wind and solar represent 62 percent of capacity added in 2019. Furthermore, wind energy provided 7.2 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2019, up from a 6.5 percent share in 2018. At the same time electricity generated from coal dropped 15 percent from 2018 levels, continuing its decline in the U.S. electricity market. Wind energy’s share of U.S. electricity generation has more than tripled since 2010 when wind accounted for 2.3 percent of total generation. Iowa and Kansas, for example, now both generate over 40 percent of their electricity using wind, and in both states wind is the largest electricity source.

The climate crisis is a real and significant challenge society must solve, and it’s good to bring attention to the problem. In this instance however, filmmakers have made an odd choice to criticize leading climate solutions using inaccurate information while fundamentally misportraying how the power system works. Doing so sows misinformation and sows confusion, and ultimately undermines any good they were trying to accomplish.

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New report: Top six wind power trends of 2019 https://www.aweablog.org/new-report-top-six-wind-power-trends-of-2019/ Thu, 16 Apr 2020 19:34:33 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17357 Although the COVID-19 pandemic is causing great uncertainty throughout our economy, American wind power rests on a strong foundation as we seek to overcome these challenging times. And AWEA’s just-released Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019 shows just how strong that foundation is. Wind energy is powering more U.S. families and businesses than ever before while providing well-paying jobs, investments in rural America, and a cleaner environment.

Let’s dig into some of the report’s top trends.

Wind supplies record amounts of energy

Wind power became the country’s largest source of renewable energy in 2019, reliably and affordably supplying 7.2 percent of the country’s electricity. In total, wind turbines generated just over 300 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2019, surpassing hydro to become the top renewable energy provider in the country.

At the state level, wind energy hit remarkable highs. Six states—Iowa, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota—generated at least 20 percent of their electricity using wind. Iowa and Kansas both surpassed 40 percent wind generation, and more impressively both states generated more electricity from wind power than any other technology.

Wind is the preferred choice for new power

Wind power was the number one choice of new utility-scale power generation in 2019, capturing 39 percent of new additions. Natural gas-fired power additions captured 36 percent of the market while utility-scale solar captured 23 percent. Together, renewables, led by wind and solar, constitute 62 percent of new power capacity additions for the year.

Across the country, wind power capacity grew 10 percent as American workers installed 9,137 megawatts (MW) of new wind projects in 2019, making it the industry’s third strongest year on record. The wind industry surpassed the 100 GW milestone, ending the year with just under 106 GW of operating wind power capacity and nearly 60,000 wind turbines. That’s enough wind capacity to power 32 million American homes.

Texas and Iowa, long the country’s wind leaders, both set single year records for new wind installations, building 3,938 MW and 1,739 MW, respectively. South Dakota outpaced all states in terms of wind power capacity growth. The state added 506 MW for a one-year growth rate of 50 percent.

And there’s more on the way. The project pipeline of new wind farms either under construction or in advanced development stands at more than 44 GW. When completed, these projects will supply enough electricity to power an additional 15 million homes.

Buyers power up with wind

Utilities and corporate buyers set yet another record in 2019, signing over 8,700 MW of new power purchase agreements. Notably, corporate buyers signed 40 percent of these agreements, with Walmart and AT&T being the year’s two largest corporate purchasers. Fourteen first-time buyers made wind purchases in 2019, including companies as diverse as McDonald’s, Estee Lauder and Baker Hughes.

Not to be outdone, utilities continued to be the largest buyers of wind. Large contracts announced by utilities like NIPSCO, National Grid, and Austin Energy pushed utility PPA activity over 5,000 MW for the year. Offshore wind projects added to the trend with National Grid signing a contract to purchase 400 MW from Revolution Wind.

Wind’s popularity is driven in no small part by its competitive economics. Because costs have fallen by 70 percent over the past decade, wind is now the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country.

Wind powers rural America

Over 99 percent of wind projects are built in rural America, bringing nearly unmatched investment and economic opportunity. In 2019 alone wind projects paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and land lease payments. That gives rural communities that often have small tax bases new revenue to invest in schools, fix roads and fund emergency services. Land lease payments give farmers and ranchers a steady income source that helps them during periods of low crop prices or poor weather, keeping many family farms in the family.

These payments are in addition to the local economic investment driven by $14 billion that developers invested in new wind projects in 2019. These capital investments support economic growth across the country and enable the transition to a cleaner economy.

Wind creates well-paying jobs in all 50 states

Over 120,000 Americans now have well-paying jobs in wind, ranging from manufacturing to construction, operations and maintenance, engineering and more. In fact, wind turbine technician remains the country’s second fastest growing job according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trailing only solar installer. Wind power is also one of the few industries creating new U.S. manufacturing jobs, with over 530 factories in 43 states now building wind turbine components. The men and women who serve our country also find rewarding wind careers, as veterans find wind jobs at a rate 61 percent higher than the average U.S. industry.

U.S. offshore wind builds momentum

Offshore wind experienced enormous progress in 2019. States up and down the East Coast made are now targeting over 25 GW of offshore, and over 26 GW of offshore wind projects are in various stages of development in federal lease areas issued to date. Developers now plan to bring 9 GW of offshore wind online by 2026, creating a new ocean energy resource that will supply clean, reliable power generated in close proximity to many of the country’s largest population centers. Reports show offshore wind could create 83,000 jobs by 2030, and Americans are on board this vision for the future—over 80 percent of people across party lines support offshore wind, according to a recent survey.

Wind powers a cleaner America

Wind provides all these benefits while being a zero-pollution electricity source, offering further proof we don’t have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment. As a leading climate change solution, wind avoided 42 million cars’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, and it also cut substantial amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, air pollutants that create smog and trigger asthma attacks. Importantly, especially in drought-prone regions, wind avoided roughly 103 billion gallons of water consumption by thermal power plants last year.

American workers built and impressive 75 GW of wind in the last 10 years, and wind is poised to reach even greater heights over the coming decade. Here’s to the next 100 GW and beyond.

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First Wind Wildlife Research Fund results improve understanding of bat and prairie grouse wind energy interactions https://www.aweablog.org/first-wind-wildlife-research-fund-results-improve-understanding-of-bat-and-prairie-grouse-ind-energy-interactions/ Mon, 13 Apr 2020 19:40:20 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17350 The first results of Wind Wildlife Research Fund studies are providing new information about interactions between wind energy and wildlife – namely, bats and prairie grouse.

The Fund is a unique industry-led initiative that the American Wind Wildlife Institute manages. It pools resources to advance critical collaborative research on wind-wildlife interactions and solutions. In 2019, the Fund launched its first seven research projects, and results from three of these studies are now available or in publication.

Climate change remains the biggest threat to many species of wildlife, and wind energy has a pivotal role to play in reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector. In 2018 alone, wind energy, the country’s largest renewable energy source, cut over 43 million cars’ worth of carbon emissions. The industry is set to further reduce emissions in the future. According to AWEA’s recent quarterly U.S. Wind Industry Market Report, at the end of 2019 the U.S. near-term wind project pipeline was 44.2 GW—equal to almost half of the wind energy operating today.

Substantially increasing our nation’s wind energy infrastructure in ways that protect and conserve wildlife depends on finding solutions to wind-wildlife challenges that are scientifically sound and statistically valid, and the Fund focuses on research that will deliver these solutions. Its activities and priorities align with AWWI’s National Wind Wildlife Research Plan and are guided by an Advisory Council comprised of the Fund’s major contributors. Fund leaders work together to select the projects, and each individual company determines its level of support for each research project. Companies that contribute to the Fund also become Partners or Friends of AWWI, and contributors include both conservation organizations and wind companies.

“It is really encouraging to see that Fund research is already yielding tangible results that can help us understand risk and better target conservation efforts,” commented Joy Page from Defenders of Wildlife, AWWI Partner and a member of AWWI’s Board. “There has been a long-standing need for more credible, peer-reviewed information about how wind energy development affects wildlife, particularly for species of concern like migratory tree bats, and the Fund is helping to meet that need by generating new knowledge.”

Expert-reviewed reports from two studies, one investigating lesser prairie chicken responses to wind projects, and another looking at the relationship between landscape-level factors and migratory tree bat fatalities at wind facilities, have been published by AWWI and are now available. Another study comparing bat pre-construction acoustic activity and post-construction fatality rates has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal where publication is expected later this year.

Wind Energy and Lesser Prairie-Chickens

Placement of Wind Energy Infrastructure Matters: A Quantitative Study Evaluating Response of Lesser Prairie-Chicken to a Wind Energy Facility” presents the results of an investigation into the effects of wind energy infrastructure on lesser prairie-chickens (LEPC) over a three-year period at a Kansas wind energy facility.

LEPC are endemic to the North American Great Plains and have experienced range-wide population declines as their habitat has been lost or fragmented due to landscape changes. Wind-wildlife stakeholders have wanted to learn more about LEPC responses to wind energy infrastructure within LEPC habitats.  

This study, the first to look at the effects of wind energy infrastructure on LEPC, found no negative effects on LEPC habitat selection or survival during the first three years of data collection at this wind facility, which is located in an agricultural landscape. With the support of the Fund, the study will continue for a fourth year in 2020 to verify initial findings and investigate the potential for LEPC delayed responses to wind energy infrastructure.

Wind Energy and Bats

Landscape Factors Associated with Fatalities of Migratory Tree-Roosting Bats at Wind Energy Facilities: An Initial Assessment” used an extensive data set provided by the American Wind Wildlife Information Center (AWWIC) database to identify connections between landscape-level features and fatality rates at nearby wind facilities for three migratory tree bat species, hoary, eastern red, and silver-haired. These three species comprise approximately 72 percent of all bat fatalities at wind energy facilities. Understanding these associations can help inform siting and design decisions, but few studies have explored them.

The authors looked at relevant landscape metrics (e.g. land cover) at multiple spatial scales. Key findings include that factors influencing bat fatalities differed among regions and species; that fatalities of all three species were higher at facilities with greater urbanization (percentage of developed land) within 25 km; and that areas with multiple small or mixed small and large wetland patches may present increased risk. The study focused on sites in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Legacy Regions 3 and 5; further studies may help understand these relationships for different species in different Regions.

Bat Activity Rates Do Not Predict Bat Fatality Rates at Wind Energy Facilities,” accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Acta Chiropterologica, presents Fund study findings that investigated the relationship between pre-construction bat acoustic activity and post-construction fatality rates at wind facilities to assess the effectiveness of using pre-construction acoustic activity monitoring to assess risk. The study found bat activity rates (based on bat echolocation surveys) prior to wind development did not predict bat fatality rates at wind energy facilities, and acoustic activity rates at operational wind facilities did not predict bat fatality rates that occurred during the same time period.

“The quality of information in these first reports underscores the value of investing in the Fund,” remarked Ray Kelly from Clearway Energy Group, Secretary of the Fund, AWWI Partner, and member of AWWI’s Board. “The wind industry’s ability to grow sustainably and deliver meaningful carbon reductions depends on minimizing wildlife impacts and maximizing conservation benefits. The scientific knowledge gained from Fund-supported research is vital to these efforts.”

In 2020, the Wind Wildlife Research Fund is supporting seven research projects. Some are new and others are continuations of 2019 research projects. The results of the projects will inform regulatory and business decisions in the wind industry, helping to achieve conservation outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about the Fund, please contact AWWI Executive Director Abby Arnold at 202-448-8775 or aarnold@awwi.org.

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New poll: Americans across party lines support offshore wind by wide margins https://www.aweablog.org/new-poll-americans-support-offshore-wind-wide-margins/ Thu, 09 Apr 2020 16:07:33 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17342 In today’s world, sometimes it can feel like a struggle getting two people to agree the sky is blue. And yet, in an era of polarized opinions, wind energy has remained an outlier—it’s a bright beacon of consensus. Just a few months ago, Pew found 85 percent of Americans supported expanding the use of wind power.

Now, just-released survey results show this same support extends to offshore wind. Over 80 percent of U.S. voters favor offshore wind, according to a new AWEA-commissioned study conducted by Public Opinion Strategies. Notably, that support is universal. It transcends across political party affiliation, geography, and every demographic group measured.

Although the U.S. only has one operating offshore wind farm today, states up and down the East Coast have made and the offshore wind project pipeline stands at nearly 26,000 megawatts (MW). That’s enough to power millions of homes and businesses with reliable, affordable, clean energy generated in close proximity to many of the country’s largest population centers.

Building that project pipeline could create over 80,000 jobs by 2030 and a new domestic supply chain, while spurring $57 billion of investment into the U.S. economy. Voters are buying this vision of the future—57 percent think wind energy will be more important to the U.S. economy than oil and gas 10 years from now. As one would expect, the creation of well-paying jobs and a new economy-strengthening industry transcends party lines.

One of the reasons support for offshore wind extends so far and wide is because it’s not just an East Coast story—its benefits will extend nationwide. For example, offshore manufacturing and service companies in the Gulf region used their ocean infrastructure experience to help build the country’s first offshore wind project, the Block Island Wind Farm. These businesses are anxious to get back into offshore wind game as large projects are deployed in the waters off our coasts.

Further down the line, offshore wind will bring similar benefits as it grows along the West Coast and in the Great Lakes. These survey results show Americans understand the promise of offshore wind, and they want to see that promise become a reality. It’s our job to get to work and deliver.

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Protecting American jobs and clean energy investment during the COVID-19 pandemic https://www.aweablog.org/protecting-american-jobs-clean-energy-investment-covid-19-pandemic/ Thu, 19 Mar 2020 16:45:46 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17333 The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented challenges to the U.S. healthcare system, disruptions to daily life across the country, and deep uncertainty across the economy. Global supply chain disturbances and massive public health interventions are extending these obstacles to the U.S. wind energy industry as well. We’re working hard to understand the many hurdles our members are facing and the impacts to their businesses this represents. Protecting American jobs and economic investment and ensuring the safety of the wind workforce remain our primary objectives.

To that end, we have co-written and signed a joint letter to Congress with the Solar Energy Industries Association outlining the complications the U.S. renewable energy market faces amidst the pandemic, and proposed actions Congress can take to keep U.S. workers busy building the clean energy grid of the future. Click on the image below to read the full letter.

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Offshore wind’s once-in-a-generation opportunity https://www.aweablog.org/offshore-winds-generation-opportunity/ Thu, 12 Mar 2020 17:29:12 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17330 We’ve talked a lot in this space about offshore wind’s potential benefits, from job creation to supply chain opportunities and harnessing a new clean energy source next to many of the country’s largest population centers. Now, a first-of-its-kind report measures just how big offshore wind’s windfall could be.

New jobs by the thousands

The big takeaway from AWEA’s just-released Offshore Wind Economic Impact Assessment: Offshore wind could create 83,000 new jobs by 2030. That means opportunity up and down the East Coast as we construct America’s 26,000 megawatt (MW) offshore project pipeline. Building an offshore wind project is a true team effort, requiring electricians, engineers, pipefitters, vessel operators, wind technicians and dozens of other occupations. In fact, 74 different professions are needed to build an offshore wind farm according to the Workforce Development Institute.

And even though most offshore wind turbines will spin off the East Coast, new jobs will grow beyond the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. For example, the country’s first offshore wind farm, Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm, called on the Gulf’s ocean energy expertise to get the project built. Workers who had spent the majority of their careers working on offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico made the trek to New England to work on the project, and the robust U.S. offshore wind project pipeline means long-term, steady employment in a new arena for the Gulf’s legacy energy workers.

Big opportunities mean big investments

Constructing thousands of offshore wind turbines will attract a huge investment into our economy– $57 billion according to the new report. Beyond creating jobs and putting U.S. businesses to work, building our offshore project pipeline means investing in coastal and port communities, transmission infrastructure, new vessel fabrication, and domestic supply chain buildout, among other areas. The chance to build a new U.S. supply chain is particularly important—it could be a $70 billion opportunity according to the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind.

These investments aren’t theoretical—many of them have already started flowing. So far, companies have announced investments of $307 million in port-related infrastructure, $650 million in transmission infrastructure, and $342 million in U.S. manufacturing facilities and supply chain development. These are just the publicly known figures. Other announcements to establish offshore wind hubs and factories along the coast that have not yet listed a specific dollar amount, but they represent millions of additional dollars invested. Companies have also signed contracts to build four new U.S.-flagged crew transfer vessels to support offshore wind project development, which is a preview of the ship building activity to come as we grow our offshore wind pipeline.

Offshore wind’s windfall is already on the way, and communities across the country stand to benefit.

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Eight companies receive awards for leadership in operations and safety https://www.aweablog.org/eight-companies-receive-awards-leadership-operations-safety/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 17:38:58 +0000 https://www.aweablog.org/?p=17323 The U.S wind industry recognized eight companies today for their innovation in the fields of operations and safety at AWEA’s O&M and Safety Conference in San Diego.

The award winners include Acciona Energy USA Global, Apex Clean Energy, Duke Energy Renewables, EDF Renewables North America, JMS Wind Energy, Liberty Power, Shermco, and Third Planet Windpower. Each year, AWEA’s Excellence in Operations and Safety and Health Excellence Recognition programs help spotlight companies that go above and beyond to prioritize operational efficiency and workforce safety.

Acciona Energy USA Global won the 2020 Excellence in Operations Award. The award recognizes organizations that promote excellence, advance best safety practices, and break through traditionally held barriers by advancing operations through non-traditional methods.

Acciona has implemented a unique and innovative approach to safety training that makes the company a worthy recipient of the award. Acciona’s Think Safe training program includes an “escape room” concept, in which trainees are placed inside an immersive mystery scenario with limited information and use advanced problem solving to progress. The Think Safe immersion training led to improved critical thinking skills amongst Acciona staff.

The other seven companies won recognition for their dedication to advancing safety and health in the wind industry through the Safety and Health Excellence Recognition Program. This program highlights the companies’ commitment to environmental, health, and safety best practices and for laudable safety achievements.

All of the awards were presented at AWEA’s annual Wind Project Operations & Maintenance and Safety Conference in San Diego. This annual conference brings together industry professionals to identify and solve unique challenges in the health & safety, O&M, workforce training & development, and quality assurance sectors.

Please join AWEA in congratulating the companies for their dedication to safety and their contributions to American wind power!

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