America’s clean energy economy created nearly 80,000 green jobs in 2013, benefitting virtually every state across the country even as looming market and policy uncertainty threaten to shrink green growth.
Solar, energy efficiency, and public transportation created the highest number of green jobs in America last year, according to the second annual Clean Energy Works For Us report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
But even though the clean energy economy kept growing in 2013, E2 reported roughly 30% fewer green jobs than in 2012, a potential harbinger of dark clouds ahead in 2014. “Ongoing regulatory uncertainty takes a serious toll,” said Geoff Chapin, CEO of energy efficiency-company Next Step Living. “Elected officials shouldn’t be holding back economic growth – they should be encouraging it.”
Solar Shines While Wind, Clean Transportation Fade
Roughly 78,600 new jobs were announced at 260 locations across the country last year. Solar energy was the largest single contributor, with more than 21,600 jobs announced, up from around 14,000 in 2012. Solar was followed closely by energy efficiency with 12,500 jobs, up from 9,100 in 2012.
Solar energy remains the biggest success story in America’s clean energy economy. Beyond installing 4,751 megawatts (MW) of new solar photovoltaic capacity, good for roughly 29% of all new U.S. electrical capacity, 90% of states increased their number of solar-related jobs to boost overall employment 20% and reach nearly 143,000 total workers.
Wind energy was buffeted by Production Tax Credit (PTC) uncertainty and notably declined to contribute just 8,500 jobs compared to 12,600 in 2012, ranking fifth overall behind both clean technology manufacturing and smart grid/transmission. Still, America’s wind industry represents 80,700 jobs, showing how much is at stake with a potential PTC extension.
Public transportation also showed a significant decline with 11,500 job announcements, down from 43,119 in 2012 – surprising considering Americans took a record 10.7 billion public transit trips in 2013.
California Leads All States In Green Job Creation
Unsurprisingly, California led all states in overall green job creation for 2013. As the epicentre of the US clean tech market and home to some of the most ambitious renewable energy and emissions reduction goals, 42 projects representing nearly 15,400 jobs was more than double the second-ranked state, even if it was nearly 50% fewer than 2012’s 26,300 jobs.
Texas placed second overall with 6,300 jobs across 12 projects, spurred by 3,300 jobs during the fourth quarter and roughly half in the wind industry. The Lone Star state narrowly beat upstart Hawaii’s third-place finish with 5,700 jobs, spurred by strong growth among rooftop solar installations and energy efficiency investments.
Across America, the power of a clean energy economy is clear. “When we invest in clean energy and clean transportation, we put people to work in every corner of the country,” said Judith Albert, E2 executive director. “The sector is helping stimulate our economy.”