Green Job Trends

Three Million Jobs and Counting!

You have got to love it! And you’ve got to read the new Clean Tech Job Trends 2010  report just released by Clean Edge and The SJF Institute. This month in our look at Green Job Trends, we focus on the new CleanEdge report. Here are some of the highlights from our perspective:

Top Jobs Sectors

The top five sectors for clean-tech job activity in the U.S. are solar power; biofuels and biomaterials; smart grid and energy efficiency; wind energy; and, new to the list this year, advanced transportation/vehicles.

Top Locations

The Top 15 metropolitan areas for clean-tech job seekers in the U.S. were little surprise based on where we do most of our work in green job placements. 

  1. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  3. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
  4. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ
  5. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO
  6. Washington-Arlington-Baltimore, DC-VA-MD
  7. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
  8. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
  9. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI
  10. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
  11. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  12. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
  13. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  14. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  15. Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA

Worldwide Jobs, Direct and Indirect

Total jobs in renewable energy industries totaled over three million in 2009 according to The Renewables 2010 Global Status Report. The solar PV industry now represents approximately 300,000 jobs; the wind-power sector includes more than 500,000 jobs.

Largest Employers

The largest employers focused purely on Clean-Tech include 6 companies with headquarters in China (double that of last year), 2 in the U.S. (Itron and Baldor Electric Company), and 1 each in Denmark and Spain. China-based companies are dominating as clean-tech employers both domestically and abroad. China outspends both the U.S. and Europe on clean energy; its domestic investments hit $34.6 billion last year, almost double the U.S. investment of $18.6 billion.

U.S. green jobs

While green jobs are largely local in nature, encompassing installation, operations, and maintenance, the location of manufacturing and business incubation is a choice to be made. There are opportunities for additional industry and job creation by being a leader. Portugal, for example, is the seat of number of large global renewable-energy companies due to the initiatives and favorable environment, creating significant opportunities for synergies, innovation, and business creation.

Five job trends to watch: 

  1. Clean-Tech Jobs South Of the Border: Mexico is leading clean-tech supply chain development, in assembly and manufacturing. While labor costs are not as cheap as in Asia, the proximity to the U.S. market is an advantage.
  2. Feed-In Tariffs: FITs are policy mechanisms offering stable payment to generators of renewable electricity through long-term purchase agreements. Much of clean-tech is newer technology and not necessarily cost-competitive with the heavily subsidized fossil-fuel technologies. FITs are credited with 75 percent of the global PV and 45 percent of the global wind power deployment, according to the U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Used commonly internationally, the results are compelling.
  3. Domestic Auto Industry: After propping up the U.S. auto industry through direct means, the administration is spending billions in an effort to propel the U.S. auto industry into the 21st century. Recall the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? It is ironic to contrast with today the environment we had that that time that sought to limit and suppress this technology.
  4. Energy Efficiency: Americans consume double the electricity used in Europe, and five times more than the world average! Wow, staggering. Any reduction in consumption is an immediate win. As the consumer embraces efficiency, the energy audit and energy-saving industries will continue to grow, and there is room to grow.
  5. Offshore Wind Industry: An offshore wind-spill is highly preferably to an oil-spill. Massachusetts’ Cape Wind has finally been improved and some coastal states are legislatively creating an environment to foster off-shore wind. In 2009, annual installed capacity for offshore wind grew 72%, and in the first half of 2010 Europe picked up the pace in the first half of 2010 installing another half of the current capacity.

Five recommendations

The report makes recommendations for national policies and initiatives to ensure the nation’s clean-tech growth and job creation:

  1. Deploy national Renewable Portfolio Standards to ensure national security, clean environment and industry leadership.
  2. Support green infrastructure development in terms of investment and policy to ensure that the U.S. is at the forefront of clean-tech products and services.
  3. Require efficiency, fuel, and emissions rules and standards to make the shift from traditional energy to cleaner-burning and low-carbon technologies and energy sources.
  4. Create innovative financing mechanisms to enable the growth of emerging clean energy technologies.
  5. Implement a Carbon Tax to finance R&D funding, project development, and other clean-tech supports. The consensus is that cap-and-trade has failed and that a tax may be implemented at a much lower price tag than most cap-and-trade projections.

We highly recommend the Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 report by Ron Pernick, Clint Wilder, and Trevor Winnie. To read the report in its entirety, visit the CleanEdge site at: