Specifically, the wind power installed at mid-year 2010 was 57% below the 2008 level, and 71% below the 2009 installed base. The American Wind Energy Association was hopeful that the looming expiration of a tax credit for wind projects at the end of the year would lead to increased activity in the second half of the year, but stated that "market fundamentals are still challenging."
The AWEA projected that wind power installed in the U.S. in 2010 would decline somewhere between 25% and 45% as compared with 2009.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center received a $24.7 million award from the Department of Energy to construct a wind-blade testing facility, the largest of its kind in the world, and another of Biden's recovery projects that are changing America. Biden's report noted that when the project is completed by February 2011, "this facility could change the wind turbine manufacturing industry in America." Yet there were only two new wind manufacturing facilities online in the first half of 2010, according to the AWEA.
The tough year for the wind power market in 2010 could just be a short-term dip based on the cyclical nature of expansion in the green energy sector. The important point is that we don't have the green energy labor data to know what it means; to ascertain if there is an employment cycle as in long-established sectors of the economy.Today at the Solar Power International conference in Los Angeles, the first baby step in better understanding the green energy jobs picture is being taken. The first census for a green energy employment sector is being released by the Solar Foundation, a solar power think-tank that has been around since the 1970s. The good news is that the news on the U.S. solar job market is encouraging. The Solar Foundation census of the companies employing Americans in jobs related to solar power -- more than 2,400 companies responded -- found that the solar sector plans to increase hiring by 26% in 2011, or 24,000 new jobs. More than half of solar employers nationally plan to increase their workforce in the next year. The Solar Foundation study discovered that there are 16,700 locations in the U.S. with 292,847 workers involved in the solar supply chain. About 32%, or 93,000 employees at these solar employment locations, spend at least 50% of time on solar business. The solar census found that manufacturing remains a driver of job growth for the sector. That may seem like a surprise to some, especially given all the rhetoric about job losses to China green energy manufacturing center, and that's why the census data is required to truly understand what's going on in the sector. The news headlines over the past year have all been about solar companies shipping jobs elsewhere. Evergreen Solar (ESLR) moved its manufacturing operations to China in a bid to remain competitive in the solar market. The jury is still out on the Evergreen strategic shift, but the fact that its state of the art plant in Massachusetts couldn't compete with the lure of China, even with the support of the state's government, was a telling indicator of how intense the manufacturing job competition in the green energy sector has become. Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) recently announced that it was shipping more than 100 jobs from its Michigan plant to Mexico. Energy Conversion Devices is another U.S. solar player struggling to find its footing with the steep price declines in solar brought on by the emergence of the Chinese.
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