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Climbing Wind Turbines for a Living

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Converting kinetic energy into electrical power as they spin, wind turbines are a growing part of the world’s renewable energy solutions. Rock climber and wind turbine technician Jessica Kilroy inspects, maintains, and fixes these giant wind turbines. She tells her story in this Great Big Story episode: Climbing Wind Turbines for a Living.

As of 2016, 6.6% of the United States’ electricity can be supplied by wind energy, and in 2015, Iowa led in clean wind power, generating more than 30% of the state’s electricity from wind. Illinois and Texas are also wind energy leaders. A few more facts from the Wind Energy Foundation:

  • A single wind turbine can power 500 homes.
  • As of May 2016, the United States is home to 48,500 operating wind turbines. These turbines are present across 40 states plus Puerto Rico.
  • In 2015, electricity generated by wind energy avoided 132 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — the equivalent of reducing power-sector CO2 emissions by 6% while avoiding the consumption of over 73 billion gallons of water.
  • On December 20, 2015, wind power produced over 40% of the electricity in Texas for 17 hours straight, peaking at 45%.
  • In 2015, Texas led the nation with more than 24,000 wind jobs.
  • Wind turbine technician is now the fastest-growing profession in the U.S.

As of 2017, 100,000 American workers have jobs in the wind power industry, with veterans being hired “at a rate that is 50 percent higher than the national average.” The American Wind Energy Association highlights their contributions in the video below:

Related reading: Wind Is the New Corn for Struggling Farmers.

Related videos: Annotated time lapse assembly of a wind turbine, changing a light bulb at the top of a 1500 foot TV tower, and Ashima Shiraishi, one of the best rock climbers in the world.

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