US annual wind operations and maintenance spending to reach $7.5 billion

The US is expected to increase its spending on the operations and maintenance of wind energy infrastructure by 50% per annum between 2018 and 2030, according to IHS Markit.

Annual spending on wind energy operations and maintenance is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2030.

The study 2019 Wind Power Plant Benchmarking in North America: Technological Advancements for Operations and Maintenance, states that:

  • The increase in spending is owing to the race by stakeholders to leverage the soon to expire federal tax credit for wind energy.
  • The tax credit has in previous driven massive growth in wind energy spending. 2018 capital spending reached $12 billion and is expected to average $14 billion per year between 2019 and 2021.
  • Texas far outpaced other states and provinces in 2018 spending ($1.3 billion) and employment, the report said. California followed with more than $400 million in spending.
  • Spending and employment growth will be stronger in the Great Plains and upper Midwestern states, such as Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Colorado and Minnesota. By 2030, these six states will increase annual O&M spending by $1.3 billion.
  • Employment opportunities from construction to O&M jobs are however expected to increase in the early 2020s.

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Michael McNulty, an associate at IHS Markit and report author, said: “Wind operations job growth will be particularly strong in the next decade.

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“We estimate the number of these jobs in North America to increase from about 6,000 today to nearly 9,000 by 2030.

 “However, there will certainly be growth in operations and maintenance positions as well as jobs remaining in segments down the supply chain that are necessary for replacement components and upgrades.”

The study is based on data collected from more than 340 wind projects, representing 36,000MW of capacity and more than 20,000 turbines installed in North America.