By John Upton, Grist
The equipment that’s powering America’s wind energy boom is increasingly being made right at home.
In 2007, just 25 percent of turbine components used in new wind farms in the U.S. were produced domestically. By last year, that figure had risen to 72 percent, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy. And exports of such equipment rose to $388 million last year, up from $16 million in 2007.
This happened even as the U.S. was installing a whole lot of turbines. More than 13.1 gigawatts of new wind power capacity was added to the U.S. grid in 2012, representing $25 billion of investment. That made wind the nation’s fastest-growing electricity source last year, faster even than natural gas–fueled power.
Unfortunately, there were job losses in the sector last year, with the number of wind industry manufacturing jobs falling to 25,500 from 30,000 the year before. That’s because there was a lull and some factory closures after a mad scramble to fulfill orders placed before a federal tax credit expired. (It was renewed for this year, but its future is still up in the air.)
The better news is that the number of workers both indirectly and directly employed by the sector grew to 80,700 in 2012, up from 75,000 the year before.
And as the wind energy sector has grown, so too has the diversity of companies that comprise it, as shown in this chart from the DOE report: