The DOE Wind program funds research and development to enable the rapid expansion of clean, affordable, reliable, domestic wind power to promote national security, economic vitality, and environmental quality.
Wind Turbine Technicians
- Some desired qualifications for becoming a wind turbine technician are as follows:
- Degree in mechanical or electrical engineering
- Strong mechanical skills, similar to those of an auto repair technician
- Good basic math and communication skills
- No fear of heights (servicing tall wind towers in the field will be part of the job).
- Construction and project managers
- Road contractors
- Construction workers for power line and trenching
- Tower erectors, backhoe operators, and foundation and excavation workers
- Crane operators
- Utility infrastructure builders
- Permitting and commission specialists
- Civil and electrical engineers
- Designers and resource planners
- Environmental specialists
Construction material and service suppliers
- Gravel (quarry) workers
- Rebar manufacturers
- Cement producers
- Lumber and building materials clerks
- Hardware and supply clerks
- Metal fabricators and welders
Operations and maintenance workers
- Field technicians
- Clerical and bookkeeping support staff
- Site managers
- Electrical and mechanical engineers
- Business development managers and project managers
Turbine, blade, and tower suppliers
- Bearing manufacturers
- Speed changer/gear manufacturers
- Transmission manufacturers
- Nacelle assemblers (gearbox, generator, controls)
- Glass fiber manufacturers
- Wood products suppliers
- Epoxy and resin manufacturers
- Motor and generator manufacturers
- Electronic controls manufacturers
- Electronic equipment manufacturers
- Electrical and high-voltage electrical equipment wholesalers
- Process control manufacturers
- Relay and industrial control operators
- Switchgear/switchboard manufacturers
What's driving job creation?
Wind as a Resource: United States has enough wind resources1 to generate electricity for every home and business in the nation, and wind energy is a critical component of President Obama's Climate Action Plan. President Obama has set a national goal, as part of the Climate Action Plan, to double renewable electricity generation by 2020.
The Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) gives power producers 1.5 cents (increased annually with inflation, now 2.3 cents) for every kilowatt hour of electricity produced from wind during the first 10 years of operation.
The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit gives owners of new wind energy systems of any size tax credits worth 30% of the value of the facility.
Where can I find classes or training?
American Wind Energy Association, the trade association for the wind industry, has a website on careers in the wind industry.
The Collegiate Wind Competition is an annual challenge, offered for the first time in 2014. The competition is a workforce training forum for undergraduate students from multiple disciplines, offering them the opportunity investigate innovative wind energy concepts; increase their knowledge of barriers to the wind industry; and gain engineering and business experience by designing, building, and testing a wind turbine to perform according to their customized market data-derived business plan.
The competition also presents a unique opportunity for students and members of industry to interact, thereby introducing potential employers to promising workforce potential and inspiring students' career choices in wind energy.
Three regional university-led consortia currently provide career educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in wind energy.
- Minnesota-based Eolos consortium established a Wind Energy Research Station to help train the next generation of wind industry technicians and engineers. The planning and construction of the Station supported local construction and engineering jobs, and the research consortium has fostered new collaborative research projects between academia and the private sector. The project also produced web-based educational curriculum for undergraduate and graduate instruction as well as training for practicing engineers.
- The Illinois Institute of Technology-led consortium develops and offers wind energy courses addressing the technical, operational, social, and environmental aspects of wind energy in consultation with industry. Fellowships will be offered annually to masters and undergraduate students in wind energy engineering fields of study.
- The University of Maine-led consortium's educational initiatives include a model Master of Science Degree in Renewable Energy and the Environment with a focus on deepwater wind energy, and a new undergraduate minor in Deepwater Wind Energy. The University will aim educational grants at individuals who are participating in Maine-based wind energy education and training in order to enter the job market.
The Wind Program, through its outreach and education online resources, informs the public about wind energy education and training programs around the country.
There are over 19 K–12 Lesson Plans available on the EERE website related to how wind energy works, including creative ways to explore and learn more about wind energy. A few highlights include:
- K-12 Lesson Plan: Building the Basic PVC Wind Turbine
- K-12 Lesson Plan: An Exploration of Wind Energy and Wind Turbines
- K-12 Lesson Plan: PBS Wind Power for Educators
Workforce and Economic Need
There were 80,000 wind energy jobs in 2012 and capacity is growing nearly 20% a year.2
In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time—representing 43% of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in U.S. investment.3
Achieving 20% wind energy by 2030 would require the number of turbine installations to increase from approximately 2,000 per year in 2006 to almost 7,000 per year in 2017.4
In its Annual Energy Outlook 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. electricity demand will grow by 28% from 2011 to 2040—reaching 4.9 billion megawatt hours by 2040. Earlier estimates led to a collaborative effort to explore a modeled energy scenario in which wind provides 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030; the program is currently developing a new wind vision study to replace this study.
The United States installed more wind capacity than any other country in the world in 2012. In addition, 72% of key equipment installed at U.S. wind farms in 2012–including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears, and generators–was made by domestic manufacturers, nearly tripling from 25% in 2006.
The U.S. wind industry got its start in California during the 1970s.
Modern, three-blade wind turbines are 50 to 90 meters in diameter and are mounted atop towers that stand 60 to 100 meters high. Typically, towers are installed in arrays of 30 to 150 machines.
1Resource Assessment & Characterization, (2012). Department of Energy. http://wind.energy.gov/resource_assessment_characterization.html
2Wind Energy Facts at a Glance, (1996-2013). American Wind Energy Association. http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5059
32012 Wind Technologies Market Report, (2013). Department of Energy. http://wind.energy.gov/pdfs/2012_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf
420% Wind Energy by 2030 Report, (2008). Department of Energy. http://wind.energy.gov/wind_energy_report.html