Green Jobs By the Numbers

A steady drumbeat of reports forecast significant growth in all areas of the clean tech economy over the next two years. Obviously, that hasn’t translated to significant hiring.
“Two thousand nine will be a tough year,” Jigar Shah, founder of Sun Edison, wrote me in an email. “It will take the entire year for the solar industry to reorient itself to the new rules of the game. In the meantime, the third and fourth quarter will help us make up for a weak first quarter, but not enough to produce overall growth in 2009.” Shah doesn’t expect hiring in the solar industry to pick up until 2010.
Still, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 targets $11 billion for a smart grid, $2.3 billion for advanced battery technology, $6.3 billion to states and local governments for greater energy efficiency, guarantees $60 billion in loans for renewable energy power generation and electric transmission projects, and $2.5 billion for energy research. As that money gets spent, it should boost hiring and the economy with it.

Expectations for Job Growth
As part of my prep for a presentation at the Solar Living Institute’s LA Green Career Conference on June 7th, I’ve been trying to gather together the industry job projections I could track down.
It turns out that quite a few industry groups have come out with projections for how many jobs the stimulus funds and other investments in clean tech will translate to the job market. And while I see these numbers as useful guidelines, I think it’s wise to take them with a grain of salt – mostly, these projections come from industry groups that don’t mind a little self-promotion. Still, they suggest the anticipation, if not the actual reality, of substantial job growth. Here are the numbers:
Advanced biofuels could create 29,000 jobs by 2012, and 190,000 jobs by 2022, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization report.
Energy efficient infrastructure could create up to 280,000 jobs (not including additional jobs in enabling technologies for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, distributed renewable energy, and smart appliances) – with 150,000 of these opportunities coming over the next year, according to a report by the GridWise Alliance, a smart grid industry group.
The Solar Energy Industries Associations believes the stimulus package could create as many as 110,000 new jobs in the solar energy industry by the end of 2010.
In Canada, solar energy job growth is forecast to grow 100 percent by 2012, according to the Electricity Sector Council.
The American Solar Energy Society reported that 8.5 million Americans work in renewable energy and energy efficiency today – and as many as 37 million jobs can be generated by the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries by 2030, which is 17 percent of all anticipated U.S. employment.
The American Wind Energy Association’s CEO predicts that the wind sector will create 185,000 jobs over the next year.
That’s a lot of work for a lot of people. But let’s remember: Numbers don’t lie, except when they do.
Of course, knowing industry experts anticipate a lot of growth is one thing; finding a job is another. So if you’re looking, check out strategies for breaking into clean tech or find out how to work with a clean tech recruiter.
Do you have additional information about job growth in the clean economy? Are you working at a company with aggressive hiring targets? Let the 3P community know by leaving a comment.

Frank Marquardt is the author of The Solar Job Guide and Green Careers.

Frank Marquardt is the author of The Solar Job Guide and Green Careers, and a contributor to How Green Is Your City? He has contributed to 100s of career guides over the past 10 years. Frank is also director of content strategy at Native Instinct, an interactive agency.

2 responses

  1. Frank – one aspect of the green job market that is growing for sure is the number of educational opportunities in renewable energy. We just completed helping the University of Wisconsin develop curriculum for the first four-year degree – a bachelor of sciences degree in sustainable management. It’s an online degree that allows non-traditional adults to participate in the new green job market by updating their skills. It will be offered starting this fall at four UW satellite campuses. Colleges and universities are certainly gearing up to provide the skilled workers when job demand heats up.

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