The best kept secret in America is that clean tech is a mega job-creator. America has approximately 563,000 electric utility work associates. California alone has created over 500,000 “advanced energy” jobs. Nationally, over 800,000 people are employed in energy efficiency.
Clean tech not only accounts for a large number of jobs. Importantly, it also creates local jobs. These are jobs that every state and city can have.
They are also steady jobs. Real estate and fossil fuel bubbles come and go. Reducing costs and emissions is a mega trend that is gaining strength during the 21st century.
So, how does a community realize this job and economic development potential? California offers real-world insights. The great news is that this is not rocket science that is open only to a narrow group of experts. Smart/clean tech is a mass-market opportunity that every community can harvest. To grow jobs, you don’t have to invent it. You just have to sell it, install it, maintain and repair it.
Small business and communities benefit from advanced-energy development
When you think of California jobs, the attention is often on the state’s entertainment or agriculture industry. Both are global markets that California companies dominate. The surprise is that California has created more “advanced energy’ jobs than entertainment jobs (145,000 jobs) or agriculture jobs (475,000 jobs).
This job growth is occurring across smart/clean tech sectors including solar, energy storage, smart grid, energy efficiency and electric cars. While solar has won deserved attention in California’s job-creation success story, it is energy efficiency that is the largest job creator. Building efficiency accounts for about 6 out of 10 advance energy jobs in the state.
California is succeeding in growing jobs faster than the U.S. average — and advanced energy is a major reason why. Advanced energy jobs are growing six times faster than California’s overall economy.
Small businesses dominate California’s advanced energy jobs: 75 percent of these jobs are with businesses that have 24 or fewer work associates. These are the businesses that are installing, maintaining and repairing smart/clean tech.
Advanced-energy job growth is happening at the local level in communities across California. Approximately 3 percent of all jobs, across regions as diverse as Northern California is to Southern California or the Inland Empire, are in advanced energy. No part of California is losing out on this economic development and job-creation opportunity.
Four keys to California’s success in growing advanced-energy jobs and local economies
The four keys to California’s success in smart/clean tech job growth are:
- Smart/clean tech is achieving price-competitiveness. Smart/clean tech is now winning price competitiveness against fossil fuels and grid prices. Customer-owned solar is now price competitive with most retail utility prices. Electric cars are price competitive agains 75 cents per gallon gasoline prices. Smart/clean tech is achieving the competitive advantage of costing less plus meaning more in terms of environmental/human health attributes.
- Public policy. California believes global warming is real. The state’s policymakers see global warming solutions as a business opportunity. The state is implementing legislation and executive orders that create consumer demand for smart/clean tech. This demand has generated economies of scale for California’s businesses. The result is that California is leading the U.S. in economic growth while also reducing its climate-changing emissions.
- Consumer demand. California consumers are embracing smart/clean tech. They are doing so because smart/clean tech lowers electricity bills. They are doing so because electric cars are fast and Californians love fast cars. They are doing so because tech is cool and smart/clean tech is gaining the key millennial generation status-ranking of being “cool with a purpose.”
- Green builds business. Green best practices make money. They do so by reducing business costs. They win customers. Green promotes local businesses. Green promotes success across California’s diverse population. Thirty-eight percent of California’s advanced-energy jobs are held by minorities. Smart/clean tech will only grow as a proven green best practice that builds businesses and jobs — in every state and in every city. The only question is: How quickly will your town or state seize this green path for creating new jobs and economic development?
Image credit: Flickr/Linh Do