While President Obama’s announcement of a new intiative for off-shore oil drilling in the United States has been making headlines, little attention has been given to another off-shore development–or lack of development.
Europe is far ahead of the United States in developing offshore wind energy. In fact, eight European countries have already installed wind turbines off their shores, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Meanwhile, no offshore wind projects have yet been built in the United States, and it appears that the glacial speed at which U.S. policymakers have been moving on clean energy will soon impact whether the U.S. wins the manufacturing jobs that will be associated with offshore wind turbines.
“Right now there isn’t anybody manufacturing offshore wind turbines in the United States,” said Mark Rodgers, Cape Wind’s communications director. “The problem is, there’s been no market here. What we’re going to have to do to attract manufacturers to the U.S. is show that there’s a market and have some of the first projects move forward.”
Recently, General Electric, one of America’s top wind manufacturers, announced plans to invest more than $512 million to manufacture and engineer its next generation of wind turbines–turbines specifically designed for offshore deployment. But the investment isn’t being planned for the United States, where such investments and the jobs they bring are desperately needed. Instead, the investment is planned for Norway, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The recent announcements by GE and Cape Wind are yet another reason why the U.S. Senate needs to quickly pass comprehensive federal clean energy and climate legislation that ramps up domestic clean energy demand and signals to businesses America’s long-term commitment to cleaner technologies, says the Apollo Alliance, an IBEW-backed coalition pressing for the develpment of clean energy technology. They also show why we need the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act, Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bill to support domestic clean energy manufacturing.