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Chinese Company Offers Free Training For US Coal Miners To Become Wind Farmers (qz.com) 203

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: If you want to truly understand what's happening in the energy industry, the best thing to do is to travel deep into the heart of American coal country, to Carbon County, Wyoming (yes, that's a real place). The state produces most coal in the US, and Carbon County has long been known (and was named) for its extensive coal deposits. But the state's mines have been shuttering over the past few years, causing hundreds of people to lose their jobs in 2016 alone. Now, these coal miners are finding hope, offered from an unlikely place: a Chinese wind-turbine maker wants to retrain these American workers to become wind-farm technicians. It's the perfect metaphor for the massive shift happening in the global energy markets. The news comes from an energy conference in Wyoming, where the American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer, announced the free training program. More than a century ago, Carbon County was home to the first coal mine in Wyoming. Soon, it will be the site of a new wind farm with hundreds of Goldwind-supplied turbines.
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Chinese Company Offers Free Training For US Coal Miners To Become Wind Farmers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    hahaha. i am hilarious.

    • how do you mine fish?

  • it was just training and companies were expected to do it.
    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @12:09AM (#54489037)

      It's not just for their employees, they're offering this program to unemployed coal miners as well.

      • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @12:29AM (#54489101) Journal

        It's not just for their employees, they're offering this program to unemployed coal miners as well.

        Apparently with the hope that these unemployed miners will provide support for Goldwind turbines where they live. This is a loss-leader for the company, but IMHO, it looks like a win-win-win for Goldwind, the residents of Carbon County, and the environment.

        • by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @04:35AM (#54489591)
          Who would have thought that Edumacation can help to generate overall revenue in a "win-win" scenario? Wow.

          Perhaps we should all somehow centrally contribute to this concept, and provide a free education to all of those who are displaced by technology and innovation profoundly changing the way we do things?
        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          No No NO!!! You are not looking at it correctly. It is a slight against el Presidente Tweetie's Coal Initiative by those naughty Chinese. What is the Coal Initiative? That's where the U.S. takes off environmental restrictions so Big Coal can get on with the business of fouling America's air, water, and soil. If these workers start making a living in the wind industry, they they won't be available for coal's resurgence. To make things worse, it means less wind coming out of el Presidente Tweetie's mouth.

        • In the version of America where I want to live we, the American people, see the necessity of retiring old technologies and industries without leaving our brothers and sisters who work in those industries to fend for themselves. Legislation would not just regulate those old, dirty industries out of existence but would also take the additional step of making provisions for those who work in those industries. Retraining them, reinvigorating their communities with economic support, and focusing on installing

      • Where, how could one learn more about this?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      When I was young US experts designed computers that other US engineers used to design power projects for the rest of the world.
      US factories then worked from US plans and US workers made the hardware from US materials. US engineers then installed the projects in other nations and returned for upgrades and support.
      The jobs and profits all stayed in the USA. Investments in US education then ensured better computers and more US jobs.
      US experts in the USA did everything from computer design, the needed indu
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        One problem (of many) is that politics got in the way and it became easier for Chinese companies to develop and sell the fruits of US research into solar and wind energy than US companies.
      • The problem with that is economic. The US is something of a victim of its own success: A high standard and thus cost of living, substantial rights for workers (though less than in Europe), environmental protections, health and safety regulations. These are all things that raise the cost of industry. It's cheaper to manufacture things at a smog-spewing, peasant-killing factory in China or Vietnam or even Mexico and ship them to the US than it is to manufacture them there. You could try to distort the market

        • It's cheaper to manufacture things at a smog-spewing, peasant-killing factory in China or Vietnam or even Mexico and ship them to the US than it is to manufacture them there.

          That excuse is going away as automation continues to advance. Most assembly line workers' jobs amounts to fine positioning work. The machine expends all the calories, those humans are just being used as the last components in the machine. They don't weld metal or even turn nuts. All of that is done by machines, and it's done a lot better. When the machine vision technology becomes cheaper than the humans, they're gone. And then the only thing that makes it cheaper to produce your vehicle somewhere else is e

        • No one is forcing the US companies, workers, consumers to accept this.
          For some reason in Europe not everything is outsourced to China.

    • it was just training and companies were expected to do it.

      Companies still do exactly what they did when you were a kid. They provide training on their dime when a trained labour pool doesn't exist to do a job, just like in this article.

  • So just who is "bringing the jobs back to coal miners"? Trump, or the Chinese wind company?

    • Who is grandstanding, Trump or the Chinese wind company?

      (both)

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @12:04AM (#54489021)
      Trump is supplying the wind.

      When Trump heard about this and was told they needed the wind to blow hard he claimed he was the biggest blowhard ever, a great big beautiful blowhard, the biggest blowhard that has ever been in government. :-)
      • Trump is supplying the wind. When Trump heard about this and was told they needed the wind to blow hard he claimed he was the biggest blowhard ever, a great big beautiful blowhard, the biggest blowhard that has ever been in government. :-)

        That's surprising ?!? I would have thought Trump's knee jerk reaction upon hearing that a Chinese wind turbine company is unfolding an evil plan to destroy America's coal industry with unfair competition would be to put a 30% import tariff on wind, enact a special tax to kill off domestic wind production and make it illegal to move wind across state lines?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @12:20AM (#54489079)
      I recall retraining was Clinton's solution to this specific skill gap problem, so Trump will hate it and do all that is possible to sabotage it. Effective training (free for the unemployed minimizes adoption costs) does a better job of putting unemployed coal miners back to work than Trump's practice of subsidizing industry with bribes. This will face even more opposition because now the Chinese are the ones showing that his poorly conceived approach doesn't work, but the only ones who will take damage from sabotage are the currently unemployed coal miners.
      • Clinton brought us NAFTA. Remember, the "giant sucking sound" as what little remained of American heavy industry was literally packed up and shipped to low wage countries.
  • Coal is a fantastic safety blanket for energy. There's enough coal in the USA to power the country for a century. The problem is that currently, there's no way to do it in a manner that is both cost-effective and clean, so those turbines look like a good idea.

    It's worrying however that a Chinese company is ready to establish a beach head in Wyoming for wind power. China spends *a lot* of money on green energy research, more than the rest of the world combined, but their country still relies heavily on coal

    • What exactly will Goldwind "milk" from the residents of Carbon County, Wyoming? Wind turbines don't require a continuous supply of products to keep them going, like inkjet printers do. Okay, they will need maintenance, but it's not like Goldwind will be sending them a bill for the wind.

    • Give away the thing that looks valuable, and then milk the locked-in customers

      For the inkjet scam to work there can't be viable alternatives. How do they make money ultimately, turbine maintenance (something they control)? Or the wholesale energy price (something completely out of their hands).

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        They've done it time and again in various industries in other regions. Central America or Africa, for instance. Or last year they started sending military advisors to train soldiers in South America. Guess where those soldiers will get their equipment from. It always start with a kind gesture and ends up in customer lock-in.

        That's the Chinese way. Maybe it's not as bad as the American way, which consists in bribing foreign officials - or replacing them with a puppet regime - and allowing them to reap huge p

    • Re:The fix is in (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @02:41AM (#54489423)

      It's worrying however that a Chinese company is ready to establish a beach head in Wyoming for wind power

      The American ones were hounded out of existence because wind power was seen to be on the wrong side of politics.

    • Re:The fix is in (Score:5, Insightful)

      by santiago ( 42242 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @02:59AM (#54489451)

      There's enough coal in the USA to power the country for a century.

      And there's enough wind in the USA to power the country forever.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Yes, and I hope you are including the environmental degradation in that calculation on the wonders of the large U.S. coal supply. And if the environment really decides to shit on us for all pollutants we've dumped in it and life isn't worth living, then we can at least have our coal.

    • Re: The fix is in (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @06:23AM (#54489805) Homepage

      A century isn't very long.

  • When you build a turn key project in another nation you need some local help to ensure it is complaint, protected and keeps working.
    Look at the fence, is the installed hardware working, report any fault numbers if the network fails.
    Report any issues with the fence. How to replace or repair the fence to some correct US standard.
    Have a number to call for experts to repair any real faults. Having access to report on colored lights or read back error codes locally if a network is not able to report such i
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26, 2017 @01:03AM (#54489201)

    It looks like Chinese communism is doing more for American workers than American capitalism has done for them in a long time. #MAGA

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @01:07AM (#54489209)

    Actually over the last few years there's been a mini boom in Rawlins (the county seat of Carbon County), Wyoming. The boom wasn't coal (that's been long gone except for some small coal liquification projects), but in Uranium mining in neighboring Sweetwater County. I guess retraining uranium miners doesn't have the same "green" backstory that the press wants to write about.

    It's *really* windy there all the time, so back in 2001, one company built a windfarm in nearby Medicine Bow (111MW farm), and there are many more under construction in the area. I wonder if this Chinese company simply can't find enough workers in the area and wants to train some.

    FWIW, my family has been in Rawlins since the '50s and really there are only 3 big employers in the area: Railroad, Sinclair refinery, and the State Penitentiary. Rawlins used to be a big stop on US highway 30, but when they built the I-80 bypass, the town died (kind of like in the fictional movie Cars, Radiator Springs used to be a big stop on US highway 66, but when they built the I-40 bypass, the town died). My grandpa sold his (ironically chinese) restaurant just after the I-80 bypass was completed in the mid '70s. The town has never been the same since.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Honestly - if the Uranium miners were the ones being retrained it would be an even BIGGER story. Uranium mining is seriously dirty business, it's by far the most environmentally destructive resource to mine - mining coal is bad, but uranium mining is worse. I'm not factoring in climate change here- just the damage from the mining - but saving that damage is a huge boon for the environment.

      It's not the story though - because as you yourself say, the uranium mining is still booming, that implies the uranium m

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Per cubic meter mined, yes, uranium mining is far dirtier than coal. But you need to move a lot less rock for uranium mining to produce the same amount of energy, even accounting for the orders-of-magnitude higher tailings fractions in uranium, and the fact that only 0,7% of recovered uranium is U-235, and of that you'll only burn half of it.

        That said, nuclear power is not being killed by wind, solar, gas or coal. It's being killed by its own price. Which only seems to go up with time, not down; it's the on

        • I'm ambivalent over nuclear. A decade ago I strongly pushed for it is as, at the very least, a bridging technology towards cleaner power. Nowadays - the math doesn't work anymore. Nuclear got even more expensive, still takes a decade or more to construct - and renewables have gotten far cheaper, can be constructed rapidly, are low maintenance (which makes them even cheaper) and can scale easily.

          There is no call to shut down nuclear reactors - we need the ones we have, but there is very little sense generall

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Per cubic meter mined, yes, uranium mining is far dirtier than coal. But you need to move a lot less rock for uranium mining to produce the same amount of energy, even accounting for the orders-of-magnitude higher tailings fractions in uranium, and the fact that only 0,7% of recovered uranium is U-235, and of that you'll only burn half of it.

          It's very difficult to make an actual cost comparison because we do not actually ever clean up our messes from coal or nuclear.

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            It's very difficult to make an actual cost comparison because we do not actually ever clean up our messes from coal or nuclear.

            We've put a lot of time, effort, and money into getting [wikipedia.org] ready [wikipedia.org] for nuclear waste. So far, we're not making much much use [wikipedia.org] of what we've built. There's some [foxnews.com] contention [cnbc.com] over plans to move forward. Agreed - We're not doing enough for a closed-loop cost comparison.

            "Cleaning up the mess" from coal is an entirely different animal.

        • In theory perhaps. But if you look at open uranium outlines in Australia and similar brown coal mines in Germany, I don't really see a difference. Black coal are usually very deep mines.
          Uranium ore has one of the lowest concentrations of the chemical you want to harvest from all ores.

      • Uranium vs Coal. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @07:07AM (#54489913) Homepage

        Uranium mining is seriously dirty business, it's by far the most environmentally destructive resource to mine - mining coal is bad, but uranium mining is worse.

        Luckily, because uranium in a fission reactor yields about a couple of million times more joules per kilogram [wikipedia.org] when compared to burning coal in a plant, you end up needing mine overall less of it.

        (Still you need to reduce that factor by around 5x ~ 6x, because it it need to be a little bit enriched to work as a fuel (0.7% natual to 3-4% fuel)).

        I'm not saying the Uranium is clean.

        I'm just saying that, whenever you speak about nuclear fission (or even nuclear fusion if that thing eventually takes of one day, before we've managed to drive ourselves into extinction), you have to keep in mind that the total amount of mass considered for a certain amount of energy is several orders of magnitude lower.

        Or another angle to consider things :
        Coal requires millions times more mass than fission to produce energy.
        Coal contains radioactive isotopes, even if the quantity are very tiny. (Well like anything in nature, actually)
        But we're burning such an absurd mass of coal and dumping all its outputs in the environment (ash),
        to the point that the radioactive content of coal starts get significant.
        And research shows that coal is actually producing more radioactive waste than nuclear [scientificamerican.com]

        But yeah in the end if we manage to go solar/wind/hydro, it's even better.
        But until then keep in mind that because of the quantities involved, environmental impact (both pollution and radioactive waste) isn't straight forward.

        Ultimately both industries have another major advantage over coal as a local keystone industry: a lot less people dying young from blacklung.

        I agree with that.

    • I imagine the biggest employer is a welfare check.
      • by slew ( 2918 )

        I imagine the biggest employer is a welfare check.

        Unemployment in Rawlins is about 5% (not that there are many people there 10,000). It's not like there are unemployed coal miners hanging around Rawlins picking up welfare pining for the mines to reopen. Coal hasn't been a factor in Rawlins employment for many decades (maybe even since around 1900, all the active coal mining you hear about in northern Wyoming around Gillette, not Rawlins in the south). You aren't retraining those Rawlins coal mining folks, they are long gone...

        The big employers in Rawlin

    • And to set the record straight - although Carbon County may have been named for coal deposits, it really doesn't have active coal operations today. It was just a convenient stop on the Union Pacific Railroad back in the day.

      There are mines in the southern part of the state in Sweetwater County, but most of the mines are up north between Gillette and Douglas (Campbell and Converse Counties - primarily Campbell at 88% of total state production).

  • Is wind farming environmentally friendly if the farmer has all his cows farting at the wind turbine?
  • That word hurts me head. Was it so hard to add the word "technician" to the end? Or a John Deer tractor technicans grain farmers too? If anyone is a farmer of green energy it's most probably the people lying on the beach. At least their body converts the sun energy that hits them into something. But even then they would probably be Vitamin D farmers.

    • They are actually called leechers.
      Farmers are those idiots that do the same repetitive tasks all day long to farm something. But often you can easy see they are actually bots.

  • http://savetheeaglesinternatio... [savetheeag...tional.org]

    large birds are an integral part of the global ecosystem. The extinction of the large living birds may have unpredictable consequences for life on Earth.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @02:51AM (#54489443)
      Wow, they'll even pretend they care about the environment if that's what it takes to make the opposing party look bad.
      Political tragics are so fucking ridiculous especially hard rightwingers. To them values and morality are nothing but talking points to be discarded when inconvenient.

      Can we get onto something technical about the topic instead of stupid political games with astroturfing fake eagle lovers?
      • by Max_W ( 812974 )
        I have nothing to do with politics. I really like eagles, herons, etc. More correctly I like to watch them to soar above a city where I live.

        It is not only extremely beautiful, but it is also like canary in a coal mine https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki... [wiktionary.org] . It means the air is clean, there are enough of trees in parks, and we are doing well.

        I do not fancy a world of only rich people, rats, and cockroaches left.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Really?
          Seriously?
          Honestly?
          Then have you ever heard of an eagle getting killed by a windmill any time in the last few hundred years? Be honest this time.

          Also WTF is it with the utterly irrelevant link - distraction?
        • Well I assume you're driving a major effort to get cats banned ? Because cats kill more birds in a day than wind farms do in 10 years.

          • by Max_W ( 812974 )
            A cat does not attack an eagle, they do a lot of damage though to smaller protected birds.
          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Not driving it, like a friend who has shot hundreds, but not a fan of feral cats either.
            That doesn't matter really compared with people choosing stupid excuses to tilt at windmills as a proxy for politics.
        • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @07:03AM (#54489909) Homepage

          For the record, the Audubon Society supports wind farms [audubon.org]. Because while they kill birds, coal kills far more, between direct and indirect effects. Now, of course, they insist on proper siting and proper measures taken to minimize bird deaths, and work towards strong laws on this front. But they do support and advocate for wind power.

    • As opposed to the eagles being naturally immune to air pollution, not suffering of black lungs, etc. ?~

      Pollution kills animals too.
      Wind farm actually kill a lot less of them. But you just notice the killing better because all of them happen at the same place.
      As opposed to pollution which is killing a couple orders of magnitude more animals, but is killing them silently and spread over a larger territory, so you're less likely to notice it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26, 2017 @03:15AM (#54489473)

    Let me see if I got this straight...
    A corporation is offering free training to people without requiring any work in return. The same Yanks who always whine about how corporations should be allowed to do as they please without fear of consequences think this is bad. Does this mean what you really hate is anything that's good for plebs, or did I miss something?

  • Somehow the Reps will credit this outcome to Trump's open, business-like, forward looking and win-win policies towards China.

  • Here's the rub... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Friday May 26, 2017 @08:43AM (#54490179) Homepage

    American companies have ceased investing in workers. They view workers as disposable. Rather than take a solid capable worker and invest in expanding their skillset, they prefer to find younger workers with the existing required skillset, or to import them via H1B Visas.

    There is so little training or skill investment by corporations, so little time off thus preventing U.S. workers from training themselves. U.S. workers are used and discarded.

    So the irony here is that a Chinese firm is saying to itself, these coal workers are hard workers. They're knowledgeable and skilled in their area. This means they work hard and they can learn. We can use that, and then use them for in-roads into Western nations and markets.

    Rather smart...

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