Coal has dominated global energy markets for decades, however, the sector is changing both domestically and abroad. At a news conference in Wyoming, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer announced it would be offering free wind farm technician training to local coalminers.
Wyoming is the largest coal producer in the United States. In fact, the state produces nearly four times as much coal as West Virginia. For a welcome dollop of irony, the site of this future Goldwind Americas’ wind farm, Carbon County (named for its extensive coal deposits), was actually the first coal mine in the state. However, the region is undergoing a tremendous economic transformation.
Increased mechanization in the coal industry and falling demand has caused massive layoffs. Last year alone, hundreds of coal miners lost their jobs across the Cowboy State. To say Wyoming has been reluctant to change would be a gross understatement. At one point in time, the state imposed a tax on wind-energy generation. Nonetheless, the wind industry is offering a host of economic and employment opportunities for an area in dire need of job growth.
This staunch resistance to the burgeoning wind-energy market is also inherently paradoxical. Wyoming has some of the highest annual wind speeds in the U.S. and also one of the lowest population densities. These factors make the state ideal for large-scale wind farming projects. And with billions of dollars of federal subsidy dollars available for wind-farm developers, Goldwind Americas is looking to transform both the energy and economic future of the state.
The company is keen on training local American workers on the wind farms it produces. Goldwind believes these former miners are ideal candidates considering their existing mechanical and electrical engineering skills. It is estimated that the wind farm project could create thousands of jobs and hundreds of other auxiliary support positions.