Vestas, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world, will be reducing its workforce by 10 percent this year. About 2,335 wind industry jobs will be eliminated, and Vestas will be closing one of its 26 manufacturing facilities. The job cuts won’t be restricted to operations here in the United States, though. Nearly 1,300 jobs will be cut in Vestas’ home country, Denmark.
A Wall Street Journal article investigates the reasons behind the workforce reduction, including competition from China.
“Vestas is grappling with a deteriorating market for wind turbines as extra supply, particularly from China, has put downward pressure on prices while pressure on government finances has put wind-energy subsidies at risk in Europe and the U.S.”
One subsidy putting the wind energy industry on the edge is the possible expiration of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC is an important source of funding for the wind industryl it's a per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity generated by qualified energy resources — mainly rewewable energy sources. If the credit is allowed to expire at the end of the year, the United States could see a significant reduction in wind industry-related green jobs.
Vestas reports that it could face another 1,600 job losses should the PTC expire, on top of the more than 2,335 jobs it is already planning to cut — and this is just the tip of the iceberg. A study conducted by Navigant predicts that the expiration of the PTC would lead to the loss of 54,000 jobs. This includes jobs currently filled as well as potential jobs tied to wind industry growth.
While the Vestas job cuts are bad news for those employees who will be directly affected by the layoffs, it is also bad news for the clean energy industry as a whole. Green jobs naysayers are on the hunt for any negative news, and this is exactly the kind of announcement they love to pounce on as proof of failure in the green jobs movement.