A lot of studies show the potential for the number of "green" jobs, but a big effort is required to actually get those employment opportunities, George Sterzinger, executive director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said during his opening address about wind energy and job creation in Illinois. "If you don't do anything, the jobs won't show up," Sterzinger said.
Illinois State University is the host of the second annual Advancing Wind Power in Illinois conference at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. The two-day event continues today with more sessions on policy recommendations, potential wind energy concern and wind farm development.
The conference brings together nationally recognized experts and local policymakers to discuss ways to encourage the growth of wind energy in Illinois, said Jeffrey Wood, dean of ISU's College of Applied Science and Technology.
More employment in wind energy could come in the form of manufacturing jobs, Sterzinger said. As demand for wind energy grows, so will the demand for the parts to create the wind turbines; however, no one is really thinking about where to get those components, he said.
The Renewable Energy Policy Project looked outside the wind energy industry to determine what other U.S. firms could make the components necessary to assemble wind turbines. "We look at these studies as something that builds appetites," Sterzinger said.
To move forward from that analysis, more information is needed, such as state standards and specifications required for work and the amount of investment available to help companies and increase confidence for a turbine assembler, he said. The federal government also needs to add some assistance.
For example, the government should provide financial help and a way to link manufacturers with universities and laboratories to work out problems, Sterzinger said.
Sterzinger even wants people in the industrial core of such cities as Chicago and Cleveland to get involved in the wind energy development that's prevalent in rural America. Even though turbines won't be found in those cities, the parts could be built there, he said.
To achieve those goals, individuals involved in wind energy need to increase awareness about the field, he said.
"If you want wind to go forward, you need friends," Sterzinger said. "It's not there yet, but it's encouraging."