Dr. Andrew Swift, Associate Director of the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University explains, “It’s called American Wind Week, it’s a national event. It was set up by the American Wind Association in 2017. So what the purpose is is to get the word out about wind energy. But it’s also to invite officials, elected officials, county officials, people who have an interest in this kind of development to visit wind farms, visit factories, begin to understand some of the impact that this industry is having nationally.”
And there are some big time impacts wind is having across our nation, and even more so in West Texas. Our geographic location on the South Plains where the land is flat plus our proximity to the Rock Mountains is a sweet spot for wind harvesting. Dr. Swift explains more on the benefits.
“It’s a domestic resource, we don’t have to import the energy from anywhere. It’s delivered right to the wind turbine. There’s no transportation to get the energy source there. It helps to diversify our energy supply. One thing is that it’s a big deal throughout this part of the country because we’re a semi-arid area, we don’t have huge amounts of water, and a typical thermal power plant uses a lot of water. Wind energy generates energy without using any water, and that’s a big deal for us. It’s a natural resource that we’re not having to use to cool a power plant. People don’t realize how big a deal that is. In Texas, we probably saved 30 billion gallons of water last year with the wind energy that’s already online. There’s no air pollution, there’s no emission, there’s no waste of any kind,” says Dr. Swift.
Texas Tech is a powerhouse in the wind energy industry. The National Wind Institute is on site with the only wind energy undergraduate program in the country. Graduates from the program enter a workforce of about 120,000 workers nationwide, and that number is only growing.
Dr. Swift further explains, “One of the fastest growing jobs in the country has been in wind tech which are the people who climb the turbine and keep them operating. That’s not what our students typically do, but that is a large part of the job market. Our students are typically going into management, project development, these kinds of things. It’s a big workforce development, and those numbers are going to continue to increase.”