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Record Wind Employment


By Gunnar B. Olesen, OVE, INFORSE.
The rapidly increasing installation of windturbines has lead to a similar increase in the jobs in the wind industry and its suppliers. The year 1999 was another record year of installation of windpower, with 3,192 MW installed in Europe and 3,922 MW installed worldwide.
This record gave a similar record in employment related to the windpower industry. In Europe, Germany, Denmark, and Spain are the leaders in windpower development, having generated the majority of the around 55,000 existing jobs in European windpower manufacturing and installation. Around half of these jobs are in Germany, where most of this development still takes place. In Denmark, there are more than 15,000 windpower-related jobs. Almost 2/3 of the windpower-related jobs in Denmark spring from the thriving export trade in Danish windturbines.
In addition to employment in windpower manufacturing and installation, increasing numbers of jobs are springing up in the operation and maintenance of windturbines, in the production of spare parts, etc. The 3,200 MW of installed capacity in Europe in 1999 created around 1,600 new jobs throughout the lifetimes of these windturbines. With a lifetime of 20 years, this increased employment by about 32,000 job-years.
The increasing production of windturbines is shifting jobs from the traditional energy sector to that of windpower. An estimate of the total reduced employment because of this is 10,000-20,000 job-years throughout the 20-year lifetime of the new windturbines. The net employment effect of European windturbines installed in 1999 is thus an approximate gain of 70,000 job-years, after adjustment for jobs displaced from other sectors.
If windpower development continues as envisioned in Windforce10 (see Sustainable Energy News no. 27 and the INFORSE-Europe website), employment in the windpower sector can be expected to grow to around 300,000 permanent jobs throughout Western Europe by 2020, and maybe to half of that in Central and Eastern Europe.
While most windpower employment currently is limited to a few countries, experience has shown that if a country creates a market for windpower of 100 MW installed capacity/year or more, that market will provide for local production and local jobs.

The figures given in this article are based on continuing work in INFORSE-Europe to develop a European follow-up to the Windforce10 Campaign. The numbers are estimates, and must be treated as such.

Photo text:
Assembly wind mill hub. Photo by NEG MICON.

See more on the European part of Windforce10 on the INFORSE-Europe website:
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ISSUE #30 (683KB) 18 pages (2000-08-11)
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