The fast-growing movement towards sustainability and environmental concerns is showing results. United States wind operations and maintenance annual spending, for example, is expected to increase to more than $7.5 billion by 2030, a 50% increase above 2018 spending, according to a new report by IHS Markit.

United States wind operations and maintenance (O&M) annual
spending is expected to increase to more than $7.5 billion by 2030

The forecasted increase in O&M spending follows the race to leverage a soon-to-expire U.S. federal tax credit for wind energy. The tax credit and technology advancements have driven heavy investment in new wind projects, with 2018 capital spending reaching $12 billion.

IHS Markit forecasts continued momentum in new project development, with 2019-2021 capital spending expected to average $14 billion per year. Following this tax-credit induced surge and the credit expiration that will soon follow, capital spending is expected to slow. The current surge, however, will drive growth in O&M (operations and maintenance) spending during the 2020s. Moreover, the early 2020s will mark a transition in wind industry employment opportunities from construction to O&M jobs.

One wind project of note is in Hawaii. There a LR 11000 Liebherr crawler crane from Buckner HeavyLift Cranes is currently in use installing New Vestas wind turbines with a hub height of 105 meters. The turbines have been under construction there for more than three months. A major advantage of these crawler cranes is the ability to move them without a derrick, as the deployment area is in extremely hilly terrain.

The LR 11000, which has been in use on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu since the beginning of October, is the biggest crawler crane that has ever worked in Hawaii. Buckner’s 1000-tonner will be in use until the end of December erecting new wind turbines. A total of eight new turbines are being installed on the island’s north shore. They form part of the Hawaiian energy supplier’s plan to expand the proportion of renewable energies from 18% currently to more than 65% in the year 2030.

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