According to AWEA, the United States has over 60,000 megawatts of wind capacity currently installed, with 45,100 utility-scale wind turbines supplying power to more than 15 million homes nationwide. But despite this present power supply, the U.S. has tapped into only a fraction of its vast land-based and offshore wind energy potential.
The potential for a virtually unlimited energy source to power American homes — and the 80,000 jobs that are supported by the industry — has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. Department of Energy. Fueled by the renewal of the wind production tax credit, which pumped an estimated $25 billion in private investment in domestic wind farms in 2012, experts believe that wind power in the U.S. can eventually supply 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030 while boosting the employment figures to a half-million American jobs.
But the unknown factor in the wind energy equation is whether or not domestic manufacturing can sustain this rapidly growing industry. Assuming America’s energy policies don’t change drastically in the near future, the question remains: Will the vital components that go into future wind turbines be supplied by domestic manufacturers, or will those parts come from abroad?
To answer that question the U.S. Department of Energy and GLWN, the Global Wind Network, have launched a nationwide research initiative entitled, “U.S. Wind Energy Manufacturing and Supply Chain: A Competitiveness Analysis.” As part of the project, GLWN will coordinate and conduct a nationwide survey of U.S. manufacturers to collect information related to the domestic supply chain’s current capacity and its overall ability to supply component parts for large utility-scale wind turbines (3 megawatts and larger) which are being planned for future land-based and offshore wind installations.
“As the wind industry develops, our goal is to ensure that U.S. manufacturers are in a position to compete with suppliers worldwide,” said Dee Holody, Operations Director for GLWN. “With a broad-based mission to increase the domestic content in the wind industry, we’re working to connect U.S. component suppliers, turbine manufacturers, and other supply chain stakeholders with opportunities we’ve identified throughout the country. This survey, which will help identify qualified suppliers and their baseline capabilities, will help achieve that goal.”
GLWN is interested in identifying manufacturers in such industry sectors as fabrication, machine shop, casting, forge, composites, electronics and coatings. “If you work in one or more of these industry sectors and are interested in supplying the next generation of wind energy development, we need to hear from you,” said Holody.
Holody pointed out that, along with the growth of land-based wind farms that are either in the planning stage or are being developed around the country, the need for heavy manufacturers is similarly growing in the offshore wind sector. With three such DOE-funded offshore demonstration projects scheduled to be in operation by 2017, plus two privately funded offshore projects underway, the industry is likely to see “steel in water” over the next 12-48 months.
The GLWN/DOE Manufacturer’s Wind Supply Chain Survey is currently being conducted online at www.glwn.org/offshore, and will be available to supply chain manufacturers through November 2013.
Global Wind Network
Filed Under: Uncategorized