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Grand Rapids Press File PhotoEnergetx Composites product manager John Vande Bunte inspects the mold for a wind turbine blade spinner nose cone. HOLLAND TOWNSHIP -- Energetx Composites could be bringing 750 jobs to the area with plans for a 120,000-square-foot plant to build the giant blades and components for wind energy turbines. Inside Clemson University’s Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility in North Charleston workers prepare the foundation for a 7.5 megawatt testing area.
The wind power industry is producing jobs in the Charleston area, and development officials see it as an important sector for attracting manufacturing and high-tech companies.
That’s true even though South Carolina and most Southern states have no wind farms, and offshore wind power is years from becoming a reality.
The driver for wind-energy jobs in greater Charleston is Clemson University’s Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility, now under construction on the former Navy base in North Charleston. Clemson also plans to add the capability to test how wind turbines and other power sources interact with electric grids, which could lead to additional uses for the facility. Nick Rigas, senior scientist and director of the drivetrain testing facility, said the goal is to help manufacturers create better designs, lowering the cost of wind turbines and ultimately lowering energy costs. Wind energy plays a small but fast-growing role in the nation’s demand for power, particularly in top wind-energy states such as Texas, Iowa and California. South Carolina now has 15 manufacturing companies associated with the industry, accounting for between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs, according to the association. Anthony said the largest near-term question for the industry is whether Congress will renew the Production Tax Credit, a financial incentive for the wind energy that, unlike incentives for coal and oil producers, will expire without action this year. Anthony said there’s broad public support for making wind energy a growing part of the nation’s power supply, but “not so much” in Congress. Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned utility, has been studying the potential for offshore wind power, but supporters of wind power say no blades will be spinning for at least several years. Despite the lack of wind power generation in the South, however, the area is increasingly on the industry’s radar. In June, an estimated 13,000 people will attended the American Wind Energy Association’s annual conference in Atlanta.
The goal now, for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and others, is to attract the growing industry to the area.
Enlarge Clemson University’s Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility is taking shape on the former Navy base in North Charleston.
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Wind power has been used for centuries, but is a relatively new source of electricity generation.
According to AWEA, an estimated 85,000 Americans are currently employed in the wind power industry and related fields. Although some States are better known for wind power than others, there are wind energy jobs in almost every State in the country.
The process of getting energy from the wind into the home or business is complex and involves many players. Currently, most of the jobs in wind power are in the manufacturing sector, followed by construction, and operation and maintenance. Wind turbines are large, complex pieces of machinery designed and built by companies known as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Many of the OEMs producing wind turbines are based overseas, and many domestically based OEMs manufacture major turbine components outside the United States. Wind farm development is a challenging process that usually takes several years from inception to construction. Because of the complexity of developing a wind farm, many occupations are involved in the process. When planning the wind farm, the owner will enter into a contract, known as a power purchase agreement, with the utility company. Wind turbine service technicians, also known as "wind techs," are responsible for keeping the turbines running efficiently.
It takes a large number of people to build and maintain a turbine, from machinists in distant factories to technicians working on wind farms every day.
For the purposes of this report, occupations in wind power are separated into three phases: manufacturing, project development, and operation and maintenance.
Most of the occupations detailed in this section are not specific to the wind power industry. Research and development is a key aspect of any industry, but because wind power is a relatively new industry in the United States, it is vital for manufacturers to invest in new technologies and processes. Key careers in wind turbine research and development are those of scientists, engineers, and engineering technicians. Engineers in the wind power industry are involved in the design and development of wind turbines.
Civil engineers 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.
Health and safety engineers identify and measure potential hazards of wind turbines, and implement systems that ensure safe manufacture and operation. Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production to make components of wind turbines. Engineers typically enter the wind power industry with at least a bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty. Wind turbine manufacturers prefer to hire engineers with 3–5 years of experience in their respective field and knowledge of commonly used systems and processes. BLS does not currently publish earnings data specific to the wind power industry, but earnings for engineers in wind power are comparable to earnings for engineers in general. Because wind turbine components are so large and expensive, it is extremely important that no mistakes be made and that design specifications be followed precisely. Industrial production managers are also responsible for solving any problems that could jeopardize the quality of their company's components. Many industrial production managers have a college degree in business administration, management, industrial technology, or industrial engineering. Because of the relative youth of the wind energy industry, it can be difficult to find workers with a background in wind power; many turbine component manufacturers will hire almost any qualified applicants with a related technical background. Land acquisition specialists and asset managers are responsible for obtaining the land for new wind development, as well as administering the land once it has been purchased or leased.
After land has been obtained and wind turbines have been manufactured, the turbines need to be delivered to the wind farm. Land acquisition specialists are responsible for designing and implementing land acquisition plans for new wind development sites. Asset managers are responsible for representing owner interests, especially by maximizing profits, in wind-farm projects.
Because wind farm projects are expensive and run on tight schedules, any time spent waiting for delayed turbine components costs money. Land acquisition specialists and asset managers are expected to have a bachelor's degree or higher in business, real estate, law, engineering, or a related discipline. Logisticians working in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry group, which includes many firms that work primarily in logistics, had a median annual wage of $65,950 in May 2009.
Wind energy is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of power generation available today. Wind farm development requires the work of scientists in various specialties, including atmospheric scientists, biologists, geologists, and environmental scientists. Scientists employed by the wind power industry spend a large part of their time in the field. Atmospheric scientists, often referred to as meteorologists, monitor the atmosphere around a potential project to ensure that there is adequate wind to produce electricity. Geologists spend a large part of their time in the field, identifying and examining the underlying topography of a proposed wind farm.
Environmental scientists work with wind farm developers to help them comply with environmental regulations and policies and to ensure that sensitive parts of the ecosystem are protected. Construction laborers often work on wind farms as contractors and are responsible for preparing the site and building the surrounding infrastructure. Construction workers employed by companies that specialize in developing wind farms are sometimes in supervisory roles.
Construction equipment operators, with the help of construction laborers, are responsible for building accessible roads directly to the construction site, helping ensure that the wind turbine components can arrive without damage or delay. Although some construction laborer jobs have no specific education or training requirements, some construction workers receive more formal training in the form of apprenticeships. BLS does not have wage data specific to construction occupations that involve working on wind farms.
It takes a large number of people to build a wind farm, and managing the project can be a difficult task. Project managers are employed by larger construction companies, energy companies, or land owners and work under contract or as salaried employees.
Project managers split their time between the wind farm site and their office, which may be located onsite or offsite.
Experience in construction, particularly wind farm construction, is vital for project managers.
Earnings for construction managers of large projects, such as wind farms, vary with the size of the project, geographic location, and experience. Most wind farms are located away from populated areas, so technicians must be prepared to travel frequently or to live in remote locations for extended periods.

Wind techs are responsible for both regular maintenance and performing complicated repairs of wind turbines.
Wind turbine service technicians do much of their daily maintenance work in the nacelle, where the gears and sensitive electronics are housed.
The wind energy industry in the United States is relatively young, so there is no one way to be trained as a wind tech. As formal training programs are developed, employers are placing more emphasis on wind-specific education. Although there is no standard certification or course of study, organizations such as AWEA are developing guidelines on the core curriculum and skill sets necessary to work as a wind turbine service technician.
The growth of the wind power industry in the United States presents many opportunities for job creation. This report examined the three major phases of a wind power project: manufacturing, project development, and operation and maintenance. Although BLS data are not yet available, growth in the wind energy industry is evidenced by the rapid increase in wind-generating capacity over the past several years. The authors would like to thank Casey Homan (BLS), Leslie Joyner (BLS), Ann Norris (BLS), Emily Liddel (BLS), Liz Salerno (American Wind Energy Association), Michele Desautels (DOE EERE), and Ian Baring-Gould (DOE NREL) for their support of this project and for reviewing a draft of this report. As the industry grows, the Lowcountry hopes to win some of the jobs related to that growth. That’s out of 470 manufacturers nationwide that produce some of the more than 8,000 components used in each wind turbine.
With offshore wind power, for example, complex federal rules apply to any project more than three miles offshore. Before beginning your next building project, read this article to see whether you should hire a general contractor, project manager or a construction management company.
Visually identifiable by its characteristic turbines, wind power has been used on a utility scale for only a few decades. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), in 2000, installed wind energy capacity in the United States was under 3,000 megawatts.
Many workers are found on wind farms, which are frequently located in the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast regions of the United States. Much wind turbine manufacturing is located in traditional manufacturing areas in the Great Lakes and Midwest, as well as in the southeastern United States, where there is not sufficient wind for substantial power generation. The first section provides an overview of the wind energy industry and the work that goes into creating and running a wind farm. Wind power generation on a smaller scale, known as "small wind," is used by some individual residences and business establishments. However, as new wind farms are brought online, existing ones are upgraded, and manufacturers are able to take advantage of returns to scale, the other sectors also are expected to experience rapid growth. Some OEMs are large multinational corporations for which wind turbine manufacturing is only a small piece of their global business.
These companies conduct research and development that leads to innovations in wind turbines. Wind turbines are large, visually imposing structures that can produce significant amounts of noise.
Each wind turbine functions as its own power plant, and the energy it produces is gathered into substations to be converted into usable electricity. Each of these workers along the supply chain contributes to making wind a viable source of energy in the United States.
Although many of these jobs require special skills unique to wind power, in most cases, skills can be acquired in other industries. Because of the complexity of wind turbines, several types of engineers are employed by the industry.
They are frequently involved in site selection, working closely with meteorologists to determine the optimal configuration of turbines at a wind farm site. 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. Although wind power is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of electricity, there are still some environmental concerns that engineers must consider.
Wind turbines consist of thousands of parts, and each must be designed to exacting specifications because of the stresses involved in generating wind power. However, a significant number of jobs require more education, such as a master's or doctoral degree.
Licensure as a professional engineer (PE) is desirable, but is not required for many wind turbine manufacturers. The wind-energy supply chain requires the skills of many different production occupations, including machinists, computer-controlled machine tool operators, assemblers, welders, quality-control inspectors, and industrial production managers. Many factories manufacturing components for wind turbines are located in the Midwest, sometimes in converted auto plants.
In the wind-turbine supply chain, they manufacture many of the finely cut pieces, including those which are part of the generator or drive train.
If the problem relates to the quality of work performed in the plant, the manager may implement better training programs or reorganize the manufacturing process.
After they graduate, they usually spend a few months in corporate training, learning company policies and production methods for wind turbine components. However, the following tabulation shows BLS data for selected production occupations in the engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment manufacturing industry group, which includes wind turbine component manufacturing. This requires the work of many skilled people, including construction workers, crane operators, wind turbine service technicians, and truck drivers.
They coordinate the efforts of permitting specialists, lawyers, engineers, and scientists to ensure that the wind farm is built on time and within budget. Land acquisition specialists work closely with landowners, local governments, and community organizations to gain support for proposed wind projects. However, similar occupations in commercial real estate and property management pay a median salary of $74,010. Some contractors work for companies that specialize in environmental consulting for wind power projects. They work along with engineers, technicians, and project managers to ensure that the site is suitable for the development of a wind farm.
Typically, the scientists are used as experts to ensure that a site is suitable for a proposed wind farm. They also assess whether the wind or other weather conditions may be too extreme for viable wind development.
Although wind turbines do not take up a lot of space, construction can be disruptive to the natural environment. Scientists may be employed by a wind farm developer or a consulting firm, or be contracted for specific projects.
Their work includes clearing trees and debris from the wind farm, cleaning machines, and helping to break up the ground on which the turbine will rest. They might work under the project manager to direct local contractors and confirm that all on-site work is performed safely and correctly. However, construction workers and wind turbine service technicians employed by companies specializing in wind farm development handle the more technical operations and usually have extensive experience in the wind industry. Project managers oversee the construction of the wind farm from site selection to the final installation of turbines. They must be familiar with all aspects of wind farm development: from budgeting, site selection, site studies, and permitting processes and safety policies to construction and transportation of wind turbines.
Because of the size and complexity of some wind farms, project managers may manage portions of the construction, such as site clearing, foundation construction, or tower erection. Most managers have experience working on several wind farm projects before they are selected to manage one.
The median annual salary for construction managers is $82,330, but site managers of wind farm projects typically make over $100,000. If any part fails, the wind turbine has to be shut down until repairs can be performed, and this lost operating time costs the owner money. The OEMs that design and manufacture the turbines offer warranties on their turbines usually lasting anywhere from 2 to 5 years.[8] They employ wind techs to perform maintenance and address problems during the warranty period. Wind turbine service technicians may work at several different sites and travel among the sites to perform maintenance as needed.
Nacelles, however, are built very compactly, and wind techs must be able to work with little operating room. They might, for example, have to replace the instruments that measure wind speed and direction. If so, they must drive to the wind farm's parts storage facility and pick up a new component or have another worker deliver it to the turbine site.
Wind techs need to have mechanical skills and the aptitude to understand how a turbine functions, so some wind techs come from technician jobs in other industries.
Because many different companies are competing to hire these workers, the most experienced wind techs can command relatively high salaries.
Jobs in this industry are located in every State in the country and cover a wide variety of occupations. Although many of the companies in the supply chain do not concentrate on wind power, wind-power-related jobs in these companies do contribute to the industry. Jobs in these fields include secretaries and receptionists, human resources specialists, accountants and auditors, lawyers, and managers of many different types.
Renewable energy is a key piece of the "green economy," and wind power, which supplies thousands of jobs in the United States, is the fastest growing sector in renewable energy. All three are expected to experience rapid growth for the foreseeable future, as wind becomes a more common source of electricity generation for the Nation. Wind-generating capacity in the United States grew 39 percent per year from 2004 to 2009, and is expected to grow more rapidly as demand for renewable energy increases.[ (visited Sept.
These smaller wind turbines generate electricity that is used to power individual buildings or building complexes. As turbine manufacturers import fewer components, more domestic manufacturing jobs could be created.

Projects must gain the support of local communities, and developers must work with the local community to ensure that everyone realizes the benefits of wind projects. Under the supervision of more experienced wind-industry workers, local construction firms help build access roads and the foundations, made of reinforced concrete, that rest under the turbines.
All wind farms employ local workers, but remote monitoring of wind turbines can allow for a cost-effective way to ensure that the turbine is generating power most efficiently and that local technicians are alerted to any potential problems. For most positions, the wind companies hire people with experience in other industries and give them wind-specific training. The following is a partial list of the types of engineers employed in the wind power industry: aerospace engineers, civil engineers, computer engineers, electrical engineers, environmental engineers, health and safety engineers, industrial engineers, materials engineers, and mechanical engineers. 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. These engineers work on wind turbine components, wind turbine systems, or the machinery that is used to manufacture and test the turbines.
Some new production facilities are being built in Colorado and Pennsylvania, States that actively pursue the development of wind power. Industrial production managers also monitor the production run to make sure that it stays on schedule.
If the cause is substandard materials or parts from outside suppliers, the industrial production manager may work with the supplier to improve quality. Others become industrial production managers by working their way up through the ranks, starting as production workers and then advancing to supervisory positions before being selected for management.
The wages listed here should be similar to those earned by workers employed in the wind industry. And the proposed site must meet several criteria, such as developable land, adequate wind, suitable terrain, and public acceptance.
Typically, they are employed by a wind development company or the company that owns and operates the wind farm. Most wind farms are in relatively remote areas of the country; it takes a great deal of planning to transport the turbine parts there in a cost-efficient, timely manner. They also work with lawyers, permitting specialists, engineers, and scientists to determine whether sites are suitable for wind farm development and to lead the process of purchasing or leasing the land. Companies will typically hire people with experience in land acquisition and management and train them to their specific needs.
Additionally, many logisticians receive on-the-job training to learn about supply chain issues unique to the wind energy industry. The permitting process requires that environmental impact studies be conducted before work begins on a wind farm. Scientists travel frequently, spend substantial amounts of time at proposed wind-farm sites, and work with local, State, and Federal regulators throughout the permitting study process.
These scientists take wind measurements over a period of months or years and use computer models to judge whether the wind is adequate for turbine operation. Crane operators need to be highly skilled, especially when handling large, expensive cargo like wind turbine components.
The earnings in the following tabulation are for workers in the construction of power and communication lines and related structures, which include wind turbines, because some workers, like electricians, can work in other industries with different earnings. A project manager will oversee a diverse team, including engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, crane operators, and wind technicians.
At the construction site, the project manager monitors progress and performs inspections for quality control.
Education is becoming important, and most project managers hold a bachelor's degree or higher in construction management, business management, or engineering. New graduates from construction management or engineering programs may be hired as assistants to project managers to gain experience. To prevent these stoppages, wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, are employed to inspect turbines and provide regular maintenance.
There are also many companies that specialize in performing turbine maintenance and employ wind techs to provide this service to wind farm owners.
Wind turbine service technicians will often climb several towers during the course of a typical workday, and their bodies, especially their shoulders, must able to withstand this strain. According to industry sources, however, wind techs usually have starting salaries between $35,000 and $40,000.
This report has highlighted occupations in manufacturing, project development, and operation and maintenance, but the wind industry employs people in many other occupations as well.
People in these jobs ensure that companies involved in the wind energy industry run smoothly by taking care of personnel, budget, and legal issues.
Companies employ wind energy workers in most States: manufacturing occurs in areas where wind power is not feasible, and construction and operations jobs are available in areas where wind is abundant.
In 2009, 10,010 megawatts of new wind energy capacity was installed, more than in any previous year. However, wind power accounts for about 50 percent of renewable energy, which includes wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal power, as well as energy from biomass and wood or wood-derived products.[3] Some States rely significantly more on wind power to fill their energy needs.
These companies rely on many smaller establishments to construct the individual components and systems that make up a wind turbine. Because of the large size of wind turbines, testing the equipment presents many challenges and the design phase is extremely important.
The brain of the wind turbine is the nacelle, a rectangular box resting atop the tower and containing the turbine's gears, generator, and other mechanical components. The wind industry supports many smaller companies that make specialized parts, such as blade epoxies and gears for the OEMs.
When a problem arises wind techs must be able to diagnose and fix it quickly, as any time the turbine spends shut off is money lost to the energy company. Wind turbine service technicians work in all three phases, but are listed here under operation and maintenance.
Workers in many different occupations, including machinists, computer-controlled machine tool operators, assemblers, welders, quality-control inspectors, and industrial production managers, are involved in manufacturing the turbine components. Civil engineers in wind power typically specialize in structural, transportation, construction, and geotechnical engineering.
As more wind energy manufacturers open factories in the United States, new job opportunities will be created. In the wind industry, welders work on many diverse components; for example, they weld together cylinders of rolled steel to form turbine tower segments.
In addition, wind turbines must be deemed safe for local wildlife, particularly birds, and be sited away from populated areas because of noise and safety concerns.
Getting wind turbine components from the factory to the construction site requires the hard work of teams of logisticians, heavy-load truck drivers, and, occasionally, rail and water freight movers.
In addition, scientific research is necessary to ensure that a site is suitable for erecting turbines and that the turbines are configured to maximize electricity in varying wind conditions.
Field studies are necessary to ensure that the wind turbines will have little impact on the surrounding environment and can safely generate enough electricity to be profitable. In addition, they help decide the placement of turbines at the site to ensure that the greatest possible amount of energy is obtained from the wind.
As with other occupations listed in this report, these figures are not specific to the wind power industry. Project managers must have excellent attention to detail and be good at time and resource management.
Project managers oversee the contracting process and manage various contractors and subcontractors. Wind techs are capable of diagnosing and fixing any problem that could require the turbine to be shut down.
Foundry workers are the first part of the wind turbine supply chain, casting metal, plastics, and composites out of raw materials. Jobs in the wind industry will be available to people with a broad range of education and experience levels. 2.">1] As the wind energy industry continues to grow, it will provide many opportunities for workers in search of new careers. As wind energy continues to grow in popularity, the development of American wind farms is expected to increase. The nacelle also contains many highly sophisticated electronic components that allow the turbine to monitor changes in wind speed and direction.
Scientists, land acquisition specialists, asset managers, lawyers, financers, and engineers are needed to ensure the site is suitable for wind farm development. Atmospheric scientists in the wind industry are in relatively high demand, although they are a small segment of the wind-energy workforce. And, as offshore wind projects are started and people begin to take advantage of "small wind" projects, even more jobs could be created. Search Construction Project Manager Management Commercial Construction Project Manager Jobs on ConstructionCrossing.
These careers extend beyond the wind farm: it also takes the efforts of workers in factories and offices to build and operate a turbine. Of course, the pace of wind energy development is influenced by current economic conditions. According to a report by the Department of Energy, it may be feasible for wind power to provide 20 percent of U.S. After designing a wind turbine, OEMs have to take the turbine schematics off the page and turn them into functioning turbines.
These components can direct the wind turbine to turn on and off or change direction automatically in order to safely and efficiently harness power from the wind.
These tasks are performed by wind turbine service technicians, who must climb the towers and ensure that the wind turbines continue to operate reliably.
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