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"Working With the Wind: Growing Employment in the European and US Wind Power Sectors"

Working With the Wind: Growing Employment in the European and US Wind Power

SectorsA new report published by the European Wind Energy Association looks at the

rapidly growing wind sector jobs market, throwing up some interesting

trends, and highlighting a number of opportunities and challenges for the

future. Alasdair Cameron reports.In these days of economic doom and gloom, ‘green jobs’ has become a

familiar refrain among political leaders seeking to articulate a vision for

the future. In Europe and North America, environmental technology is being

increasingly touted as the next big thing. As one senior British politician

recently put it, ‘there has been enough financial engineering, it is time

for some real engineering.’Of course, those involved in the renewable energy industry have always

predicted that it would one day be an essential part of the economy and a

key sector for growth. Now, a new study by the European Wind Energy

Association (EWEA) is putting some numbers to the rhetoric, revealing that

the wind energy sector alone now employs more than 150,000 people across

Europe, with new prospects emerging all the time.By sending questionnaires to companies working in the wind energy sector,

EWEA has been able to piece together a revealing image of a truly diverse

and international industry. From turbine and component manufacture, to

project management and engineering, the industry currently employs around

108,000 individuals directly across the continent. This is more than twice

the number employed in 2002, the last time a survey was conducted, and

represents an annual increase of more than 12,000 jobs a year. Add to this

those employed indirectly as component manufacturers, consultants, legal

professionals, financial services providers and so on, and this number

increases by 50% again, to around 154,000.Of this total, turbine and component manufacturing account for the lion’s

share, with these two sectors making 59% of direct employment and 69% of

total employment. This fact has helped to ensure that those countries which

were first to adopt wind and develop their industries are likely to be

those which continue see the highest benefits in terms of employment in the

future, even as their domestic demand slows down.Other key areas of employment are wind farm development (16%), and

installation operation and maintenance (11%). These are the kinds of jobs

which are most easily transferable to new markets, and which make up the

bulk of employment in many countries. Utilities and power providers support

an extra 9%, while consultants and research and development make up 3% and

1% respectively. Finally, the specialist financial aspect of wind power

development makes up around 0.3% of total direct employment.Germany, Denmark and SpainAs with so many things in the world of renewable energy, Germany is the

leader in wind energy employment, accounting for nearly 38,000 direct jobs,

rising to 84,300 if indirect employment is included. In many ways this lead

is unsurprising given its long-term position as one of the major wind

energy markets, and indeed with more than 23,000 MW of working wind, it

remains the country with the second highest installed wind power capacity

(having just been overtaken by the US in 2008).Not only does Germany have a large domestic demand for wind power

technology, but the country is home to two major wind turbine manufacturers

– Enercon and Nordex – as well as some smaller companies such as REpower

and BARD Engineering, and a large specialist engineering and energy sector.

German designers and consultancies have also been crucial to the

development of wind turbine technology over the years, and are well

represented in the employment stakes. Interestingly, the figures (combined

EWEA and the Federal Ministry of Employment) show that only around a third

of wind power jobs in Germany are direct. The explanation for this is the

large number of German component