10,800+ Clean Energy Jobs Announced in Q3 2012, but Political, Regulatory Uncertainty Takes Toll; Top 10 States in Q3: Calif., NY, Ore. Wash. N.M., TX, NC, Minn. Ill. Nev.
WASHINGTON (Nov. 8, 2012) – More than 10,800 jobs were announced in the clean energy sector and related industries in the third quarter of this year, according to the latest analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
The top 10 green job states in the third quarter of 2012 were (from No.1 to No.10): California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada.
While significant, the job growth was dramatically less than in the previous two quarters of this year – despite an improving economy.
The latest “What Clean Energy Jobs? These Clean Energy Jobs!” report suggests that what was once strong job growth in the clean energy sector is being reined in by uncertainty over politics and policies such as the production tax credit (PTC) for the wind industry that is about to expire.
By comparison, E2 tracked announcements involving more than 37,000 jobs in the clean energy sector in the second quarter. In the first quarter of this year, there were 46,000 clean energy jobs announced – more than four times as many as in the third quarter.
“These numbers show that policy matters,” said Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs. “With clean energy job announcements slowing down, it becomes even more important that Congress and the administration take the right steps to ensure that we don’t lose any more momentum in the clean energy sector that’s helping both our economy and our environment.”
E2 also unveiled a new online tracking tool that can be used to search for job announcements by sector and by state that can be found at www.e2.org/cleanjobs.
The third-quarter report is the latest since E2 began tracking clean energy job announcements in September 2011. E2 is a nationwide network of business leaders who advocate for good environmental policy while building economic prosperity. It is an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
For the complete report, as well as past reports, please see www.e2.org/cleanjobs.
The report comes as Congress is about to return to Washington and has the opportunity to extend the production tax credit that has created tens of thousands of jobs in the wind energy industry. The looming Dec. 31 expiration of the PTC has already resulted in massive layoffs and project curtailments in the wind industry.
“It’s hard to expand your business and create new jobs with this much political uncertainty affecting the wind industry,” said Jacob Susman, founder and CEO of OwnEnergy, Inc, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based wind farm developer.
“The election is now over, and the political posturing needs to end,” Susman said. “Congress should give businesses like mine the certainty we need to grow, by passing the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the PTC in the upcoming tax extenders package that will let us all get back to work.”
According to the E2 report:
*Power generation companies announced the most clean energy jobs in the July-September quarter. Solar, wind and biogas companies announced 40 projects that together would create more than 6,000 jobs.
*Manufacturing companies making everything from electric vehicles to solar panels announced 14 projects in the quarter that would create more than 1,600 jobs. However, most projects were being completed or nearing completion.
*In the wind industry, manufacturing job announcements fell to zero in the third quarter, compared to eight announcements in Q1 and two in Q2.
*Clean energy job announcements have no political or regional boundaries. Forty-eight percent of the announcements were in Republican congressional districts, 46 percent were in Democratic districts, and 6 percent spanned more than one congressional district.
*Three states saw significant jumps in announcement for clean energy and related jobs between the second and third quarters: North Carolina (from No. 26 to No. 7), Washington (from No. 27 to No. 4), and Texas (from No. 15 to No. 6).
The E2 report is compiled from formal job announcements and media reports. They include projects and programs in various stages of development mainly in the manufacturing, energy, biofuels and public transportation industries.
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of individual business leaders who advocate for good environmental policy while building economic prosperity. Learn more at: www.E2.org.
The Savannah International Clean Energy Conference, November 11-13, 2012, is fast becoming the must attend event of the year. Make sure you are part of this conference and join industry leaders and key players within the clean technology space, and take advantage of early registration rates through September 15th.
The Savannah International Clean Energy Conference will be a global gathering of the who’s who in clean technology. These industry leaders are bringing their unique perspectives to an agenda focused on exploring the significance and global impact Energy Independence will have on clean energy, clean technologies, and economic growth. This is an event you need to attend, so sure to register early!
Current line-up of Key Notes & Speakers:
Tom Fanning, President & CEO, Southern Company
Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, President, Acore
Tom Cain, Greener Capital Partners
Jamie Vollbracht – Carbon Trust
Bruce Kahn, Deutsche Bank
Michael Eckhart, Citigroup
Greg Montgomery, Abundant Power
Maurice Gunderson, Earth Energy Ventures
Gene Rodriques, Southern California Edison
Brian Parsonnet, Ice Energy
Alan Gotcher, Xtreme Power
William Wescott, Veolia
Greg Wolf, Duke Energy Renewables
Elmer Sun, Greentech Exchange
Roger Ammoun, Credit Suisse
Each day the earth receives more energy from the sun than humans could consume over the course of a quarter of a century, yet we still seem to be in the early stages of learning how to use that energy. The possibilities of utilizing the sun’s heat as an energy resource have been explored through the years, beginning with primitive methods like using magnifying glasses to create fire. However, several factors are bringing the emerging technology to the forefront today. First, the robust global environmentalism movement has generated a keen awareness about the need to preserve the earth’s non-renewable resources and focus on renewable forms of energy. In addition, the current economic and political climate demands that we find new ways to power our lives.
Despite the shortcomings of solar energy, the recent news is promising. The success of several modern advances suggests that good things are on the horizon for solar power.
Overcoming the Solar Energy Storage Conundrum
The chief challenge to making solar energy a viable option for most of the world is that it’s only available when the sun is out – generally, half of each day. Although the sun provides an abundant source of clean energy, it’s not always accessible.
Recent news about a new solar project located the Nevada desert has renewed interest and shined a promising light on the future of solar energy. The project led by a division of California-based SolarReserve, LLC takes advantage of new technology involving salt. During the day, power is generated by the sun heating salt, which can be stored for an extended period of time. Although the technology that introduced this salt storage method was first tested decades ago, it never took off. Today, with increased efforts to develop alternative sources of energy, the interest in this process is growing.
Other companies are working to extend the sun’s heating powers using similar ideas. BrightSource Energy, Inc. is one of several companies that use a hybrid solar-thermal technology to prolong the effectiveness of solar power into the night. BrightSource plans to construct a plant where the effect of the sun’s daytime heat will be carried into the evening through operation of solar powered steam generators.
With progress on the horizon in the private sector, the government is taking notice. The U.S. Department of Energy recently issued loan guarantees to American companies developing renewable energy technologies. Although critics feared that more borrowers would suffer the fate of energy company Solyndra at the expense of the American taxpayer, an independent oversight committee suggests that the loan guarantee program was a resounding success. In fact, a huge majority of the projects launched by this public funding achieved a great deal and have paved the way for new innovation in the industry. Not only are most of the borrowers on track to pay back their loans, the federal government will receive millions of dollars in interest from the program.
Solar Energy Leads to Job Creation
Research suggests that investment in solar energy helps with job creation. The Department of Revenue’s loan guarantee program has been credited with contributing to the creation of over 50,000 jobs for Americans. In addition, a report from the Solar Energy Industry Association indicates that the solar power industry currently employs a huge number of American workers, with the number expected to increase dramatically as existing technologies are perfected and new methods emerge. Some attribute this phenomenon to the fact that harnessing solar energy is a rather labor-intensive process.
Record Set in Germany
On one particular weekend in Germany in early 2012, approximately 50% of the country’s electricity was generated by solar power. Not surprisingly, that represented a world record. Although Germany is at the forefront of the movement to develop and utilize renewable energy, this achievement provides a shining example for nations across the globe.
As long as scientific innovation provides a glimmer of hope that solar power can replace (at least in part) our reliance on fossil fuels, the issue will remain near the top of the American political agenda. The same is true in many other countries, where efforts to utilize the technology far surpass that in the United States.
Brent Hardy oversees all corporate construction & facilities management activities for Extra Space Storage and leads corporate sustainability programs, implementing solar power, energy efficiencies and more. He writes about corporate sustainable practices at blog.extraspace.com/category/sustainability.