ssquared87 wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:51 am
I don’t have much of an opinion on wind energy as I don’t know enough about it to make an educated comment but I am in favor of renewable energy in general.
But your evidence is misleading. You’re specifically talking about wind energy then citing stats on renewable energy in general. Those jobs you cited were in renewable energy, not wind specifically. Wind only makes up a portion of renewable, along with hydro which is a greater portion than wind.
Hydro in the USA is very few jobs.
The Hoover dam and the Grand Coulee dam are built. With the exceptions of repowering (such as has been done at Niagara Falls NY) the major rivers in the USA are dammed, and the power stations built. They then have very small operating staff - if there is not a tourist potential then really few operating staff. There are micro hydro installations being built in some places but often that is a "drop in" solution (so again few jobs on site).
Wind is a source of construction jobs. An intense burst while the site is prepared and the turbine raised. After that there are a number of Operations & Maintenance jobs - probably more per GW than gas-fired or hydro-electric.
So per GW of capacity wind is greater source of jobs. Both in construction (now) and in the future (operations).
But that's not the point. The Hydro resource of the USA is tapped out (unless major Alaskan rivers could be dammed and the power shipped south). The wind resource of the USA is barely tapped. And the offshore wind resource of the USA is as huge again & I think the first offshore wind farm might have been commissioned? (the UK is way ahead in this area - heading on for 10 GW of offshore wind capacity). Capacity Factors (utilization) are much higher for offshore wind & that can make for attractive economics despite the higher cost of new.
In the medium term it may be that solar laps it. Solar offers the possibility of falling costs for basically forever (due to new materials etc.). The USA, again, has an enormous solar resource. Whereas wind cost improvements are incremental, arising from larger turbines. There are various innovations in blade design etc. out there that might give further step changes but at the moment it's unlikely that costs will do a step change down.
On Hydro the major remaining possibilities are largely in Canada. Quebec and James Bay in particular, also Labrador. However Muskrat Falls (Labrador) is a financial disaster which will cripple a small province (Newfoundland), doubling provincial debt. Most of the other possible Canadian projects are tied up in First Nations land and sovereignty claims. Unless high voltage DC lines can be built from Quebec to New York & New England, that eastern resource will remain untapped.
As we can see with the pipeline struggles & First Nations, damming more rivers in British Columbia is probably a non-starter.