It’s common knowledge that wind turbines mark an encouraging evolution of the US energy frontier and that industry technology keeps breaking barriers. But few know what might be the most breathtaking part of wind power’s arrival: the view from atop a turbine.
“How many people have an office that’s 80 meters up?” asks one technician. “You open the doors, you can see for miles.”
The observation appears in a video celebrating a record-breaking Siemens contract with MidAmerican Energy for the installation of 448 turbines to power around 317,000 Iowa homes, slated to be completed by the end of this year. The technician is one of over 70,000 wind energy workers in the US who produced 4.4% of the nation’s electricity in 2014 – enough to power 16.7 million homes and lead the world.
But the sails are just starting to fill. The White House has called for non-hydro renewables to supply 20% of US electricity by 2030. The Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report sees wind power saving $280 billion, eliminating 250,000 tons of pollutants, and saving 260 billion gallons of water by 2050. Its projections also predict wind power generation in all of the lower 48.
Though the environmental and economic benefits of wind power are obvious, the labor benefits shouldn’t be overlooked: The Report also projects the industry will create 600,000 jobs. Workers will be drawn to the field for reasons ranging from support of the renewable energy mission to the appeal of hands-on labor, and maybe even for that unbeatable turbine-top view. Stories like that of Murlin Evans, a PR professional changing careers to become a turbine technician, will likely become more common.
“My passions and my ‘job’ are once again lining up in a way I never expected,” Evans explains.
The first Siemens wind training center in the US (joining three others in Denmark, Germany, and the UK) will send many careers skyward. Besides creating 50 jobs around the Orlando site, it expects to introduce over 2,400 trainees per year to the latest skills and technology behind the boom. These workers will punch in at the top of the world at sites around the country—Siemens has plans for 900 wind projects in 39 states and Puerto Rico.
Navigating wind energy advances is no small task. Siemens continually optimizes the manufacturing and installation of its wind technology, often with the aid of digitalization and autonomous learning systems that dynamically maximize efficiency in local conditions. Product evolution and improvement is ensured by designers using comprehensive virtual tools to test and innovate quickly.
Appropriately enough, technology players like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have shown a recent commitment to wind energy through investments to power data centers and other key operations. Siemens built the federal government’s largest wind farm in Amarillo, Texas to supply more than 60% of the electricity for the Pantex Plant, otherwise known as the country’s central nuclear weapons facility.
Whether it ripples through an everyday web service, crucial national operations, or wiring much closer to home, wind is behind an energy shift—and a promising new course.
Read more about wind power solutions here.
This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.