http://www.manitowoccranes.com/site/GB/NREN20091030a.aspx - also a lesson in getting the camera lined up correctly, as that is not a leaning tower of Pisa knockoff. It actually stands 113 meters tall (370 feet) and if it is not vertical it won't work. The wind turbine is an E70 (~ 2 MW) and was installed 3 years ago. The tower is made of reinforced concrete sections assembled onsite. Enercon is a big proponent of tall towers made from reinforced concrete - as steel tends to be too flexible for tall towers, and is also quite expensive compared to concrete. Besides, they have a 300,000 square meter (3.2 million square feet) factory that churns out concrete towers..
Actually, when you think of wind turbines, you tend to think of the completed unit, really big, turning gracefully in the wind. Or maybe you think of a conniving and nefarious cabal of coal, nuke and natural gas executives busy setting up astroturf groups who conjure up all sorts of specious arguments against wind turbines, especially ones hard to prove or disprove because they center around beliefs. For example, the "Anti's" have flocked to the arguments around infrasound (you can't hear it but it can be measured, and what will that do to your quality of life or the value of the ex-urban potato palace within a mile of a proposed or actual wind turbine...?). But, you don't often think of concrete and cranes, except when you see wind turbines being installed... Or of the 8,000 components that go into an average commercial scale wind turbines (one which produces electricity at commercially viable costs).
This crane is a "mobile" one, and not a "crawler" (has a track instead of wheels to move the crane around). The crane is rated for 450 tons, which is similar to the 400 ton rating of the quite commonly used Manitowac 16000 (who also make the GMK 7450 pictured) which has tracks and is a common site at a lot of wind farm installations in this country. But a model 16000 is a pain to transport (requires about 16 big trucks) and set up, especially for community wind projects involving only a few or even one turbine, and the set-up time can take longer than the tower/nacelle/blade installation time (about one day with good weather). This 7450 unit would only take about 4 trucks worth of equipment to set up, and it can be driven to the site. So some clever USA engineering - Manitowac is a USA company (Manitowac Wisconsin is its headquarters) but with operations in a lot of locations throughout the world - a problem (high cost crane transport and setup) is solved, and the installed cost of wind turbines can be lowered and made more efficient, especially for community wind projects. Of course, we don't have a lot of community wind operations in this country due to seriously messed up renewable energy pricing systems, which no doubt brings some joy to the aforementioned cabal of climate wreckers...
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) just put out another report on Green Jobs - it's 100 pages, but has lots of pictures and graphs, and is pretty easy reading - see http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/
Big plans, but then, where the winds are - offshore in much of Europe - that covers a lot of territory. It is also expected that wind will be THE major electrical generation technique for Europe in terms of delivered energy, though solar PV may have large larger capacity values and a larger quantity of money invested in it (it is a much more expensive way to make electricity). Wind turbines will deliver more electricity than will coal, nukes and natural gas. But, it is increasingly offshore where they must go, as onshore for a lot of Europe has what are considered by US standards, pathetic wind resources (with the exception of Norway, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal and a lot of France, Italy and Greece).
Meanwhile, in the US, it looks like half of the 70,000 people employed in the wind biz are to get "Riffed" by the end of December, once wind turbine installation rates crash and the industry either goes into hibernation or finds export opportunities in South and Central America - this is due to the end of the mediocre incentives now in effect. Maybe the right wingnuts in the teabagger faction of the Congress will see the light (unlikely) or get booted in the November 2012 elections (quite probable in many instances). Or maybe next year, when the strategy of ruining the US economy so that President Obama can get blamed for a ruined economy loses its luster, they will change their tune a bit. After all, a lot of those jobs are in places like Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Colorado and Iowa, and we can generally count of Congresscritters to fend for local interests, though in this case, maybe not.
After all, when GOP stands for Grand Oil Party, and all the oil companies are evolving to natural gas companies (most of the oil in North America has been found and tapped, so methane is most of what remains), well the money behind the GOP will want a return on their investment, both in rented politicans and in drilling. Natural gas prices have to rise considerably to make this a profitable business once again, and that means demand for natural gas has to rise to use up the recent surplus of natural gas (and this surplus has trashed both prices and profitability in the natural gas business). In fact, the darling of the fracking scene - Chesapeake Energy - seems to have gotten into lots of trouble of late - see http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/bill-powers/is-chesapeake-energy-going-bankrupt and http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/05/15/chesapeake-shares-keep-falling-but-maybe-its-time-to-buy-the-debt/. Oh well, Chesapeake is not an "oil major" with the ability to wait out this temporary collapse in prices and it could get snapped up at as quite a bargain by one of the "big boys" or by some gamblers and hedgeis on Wall Street. But a lot of people will collectively lose tens of billions as creditors are forced to eat it, thousands of workers get laid off and whatever pensions or equivalents they thought they had evaporate into the waiting coffers of some of the "1%"
But regardless, there is a big future in wind energy, especially when a country like the US has several multiples of the current national electricity consumption in the form of high quality onshore wind and near shore ocean winds. There is no good reason why at least 1 million people could not be working right now in the wind biz in this country. It should be comparable to the auto industry in employment and economic contribution to our country.
So, need a job? Lots of people do (an estimated 25 million could use a full time job) in this country - take it from the former US Labor Secretary, Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/
Not all will be/could be/should be employed in the wind biz, but a decent sized wind turbine installation rate (made possible by things such as Feed-In tariffs or similar efforts at price sanity) could stimulate up to 5 million people's employment (1 million direct jobs, and lots of indirect ones). And this means both blue collar and white collar, college educated and not college educated. As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that the abysmal post graduating employment rate for college graduates will improve until the wind industry starts living up to its potential. And not just with the R&D part of the biz (this only employs a small fraction of those in the biz, and most of the R&D employment will be in Europe, due to our recent history of trashing renewable energy opportunities (2000 to 2012)). All those factories also employ college grads, and the services supplying them employ more college grads. Besides, what's wrong with getting that Art History degree paid it off with a factory job that pays a middle class wage, especially since we have way too many Art Historians for the tax monies available to support them. Plus, employed people pay local taxes and these employ teachers en masse (who are all college grads, too) and lots of other governmental workers, who also tend to have higher education levels than the general public.
And it will also be good for the crane business, too. Look, here is a more recent model, just introduced to make wind turbine installation less costly and more efficient:
from http://www.cranestodaymagazine.com/news/manitowoc-launches-grove-gmk-6300l/. That lower concrete tower section is about 28 feet in diameter and 12 feet high and it weighs 72 tons. And accompanying this is the gnashing of teeth from the pollution based electricity cabal, as well as cries of "Curses, foiled again!", reminiscent of Boris Badenov..... After all, there goes another slice of the market for coal, natural gas and nukes....