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Review USA 18 Sun & Wind Energy 8+9/2014 a crazy idea of Europeans. The list of companies that cover 100 % of their electricity demand with their own renewable electricity sources has now grown to more than several dozen, including such illustrious names as Intel, Microsoft and retail chains like Staples. Site parameters for wind energy In the US, energy and industrial policy fall within the scope of the individual states, which have quite a lot of power in relation to the federal government in Washington. “There are actually 50 individual markets,” Nüsslein says. As a result, both funding and political activities for wind energy are highly fragmented. Having even one wind turbine is not necessary for a state to see some economic benefits. Take Georgia: in 2012, the southeastern state was pleased to be in 9th place in the ranking of the most industry-friendly states in the US. A decidedly business-friendly policy, plus low costs for wages, energy and living were the secrets of this success. Wind resources only exist on the coast, so there are virtually no wind turbines in the state. Nonetheless, the wind industry profits from Georgia’s economic vigour. In 2011, the ZF Group opened a production facility for gear drives in Gainesville. The company invested US$ 98 million, creating 250 jobs in the plant. At least five other companies in the state, with a total of 1,000 jobs, considered themselves to be a part of the wind industry in 2011. Calls for tenders are popular Even though the way wind energy is perceived is slowly changing, people in the US are chiefly viewing it from an industrial policy perspective. AWEA specifies the number of wind energy-related manufacturing companies to be “at least 560”, very unevenly distributed among 43 states. The value chain for key components is made up of 12 manufacturing plants for large rotor blades, 14 for towers and 9 for nacelles in 19 states (as of 2013). Government contracts are generally awarded through tendering procedures. The demand of the last few years has had an impressive effect on value creation. The share of components “made in the USA” accounted for some 25 % of American wind turbine production in 2005, while in 2012 it already stood at 72 % – and the trend is rising. However, the figure varies quite a bit for individual key turbine components. According to the US Department of Energy estimates, it’s around 25 % for generators, between 50 and 70 % for towers, 60 to 80 % for rotor blades and hubs, and more than 80 % for nacelles. Hardly any other industry in the US economy which is, in general, already on the upswing, is expected to achieve such good results in building its own value chain as the wind industry is. In comparison, the British wind sector is years behind, although its boom – which is largely offshore – has been going on considerably longer than the one in the US. Jörn Iken The US has managed to build a strong domestic value chain. Siemens, for example, has established a nacelle manufacturing plant in Hutchinson, Kansas. Photo: Siemens


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