| Green Jobs Overview |
The renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) industries represented
more than 9 million jobs and $1,045 billion in U.S. revenue in 2007,
according to a new report offering the most detailed analysis yet of the
green economy. The renewable energy industry grew three times as fast as
the U.S. economy, with the solar thermal, photovoltaic, biodiesel, and
ethanol sectors leading the way, each with 25%+ annual revenue growth.
The new ASES Green Collar Jobs report from the nonprofit American Solar
Energy Society (ASES) based in Boulder, and Management Information
Services, Inc (MISI), an internationally recognized economic research firm
based in Washington D.C., provides a sector-by-sector analysis of where
the opportunities are in the rapidly changing renewable energy and energy
“There’s a new sense of optimism in the green economy,” said Brad Collins,
ASES’ Executive Director. “But while the U.S. could see million of new
jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, this will only happen with
the necessary leadership, research, development, and public policy at the
federal and state levels.”
Key steps include a national renewable portfolio standard, long-term
extension of the production tax credit, effective net metering policies,
and improved access to electric transmission infrastructure.
According to the advanced scenario in the report, which represents the
upper limit of what is technologically and economically feasible, RE&EE
would generate about 37 million jobs and $4,294 billion in annual revenue
by 2030. It’s one of three forecast scenarios highlighted in this report.
Under the base case (business as usual) scenario, which assumes no major
change in policy or initiatives, the green job forecast is for more than
16 million jobs and $1,966 billion in revenue in the U.S. by 2030 – less
than half the jobs and revenue than the advanced scenario. The third
scenario assumes moderate policy improvements at the federal and state
level and forecasts 19.5 million jobs and $2,248 billion in revenue by
Key conclusions from this report include:
• Renewable energy and energy efficiency currently provide more than 9
million jobs and $1,045 billion in revenue in the U.S. (2007). The
previous year (2006) renewable energy and energy efficiency represented
8.5 million jobs and $972 billion in revenue.
• 95% of the jobs are in private industry.
• As many as 37 million jobs can be generated by the renewable energy and
energy efficiency industries in the U.S. by 2030 – more than 17% of all
anticipated U.S. employment.
• Hottest sectors include solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, biofuels,
and fuel cells (in terms of revenue growth).
• Hot job areas include electricians, mechanical engineers, welders, metal
workers, construction managers, accountants, analysts, environmental
scientists, and chemists. The vast majority of jobs created by the
renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are in the same types of
roles seen in other industries (accountants, factory workers, IT
• Renewable energy and energy efficiency can create millions of
well-paying jobs, many of which are not subject to foreign outsourcing.
These jobs are in two categories that every state is eager to attract –
college-educated professional workers (many with advanced degrees), and
highly skilled technical workers.
• The renewable energy industry grew more than three times as fast as the
U.S. economy in 2007 (not including hydropower). Renewable energy is also
growing more rapidly than the energy efficiency industry, but the energy
efficiency industry is currently much larger than the renewable energy
Key conclusions from Colorado case study:
• Renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are already
significant economic drivers in Colorado and are well positioned for
future growth. In 2007 RE/EE generated $10.3 billion in sales and provided
over 91,000 jobs in Colorado, accounting for more than 4% of the gross
state product. This could grow to as much as $61.5 billion and 613,000
jobs by 2030 with continued leadership, research, development, and policy
• Despite fierce competition from other regions of the U.S., Colorado is a
disproportionately large player in the renewable energy industry.
Colorado’s gross state product accounts for only about 1.7% of the U.S.
GDP, but in 2007 Colorado had about 6% of the U.S. wind market, nearly six
percent of the photovoltaics market, and about 5% of the biofuels market.
• Hottest sectors include: wind, solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, fuel
cells, biofuel, R&D (federal government), recycling, energy efficient
windows/doors, green building
• The vast majority of jobs created by RE&EE are in roles similar to roles
that are in other industries. Hot job areas include: electricians, truck
drivers, welders, machinists, roofers, accountants, cashiers, software
engineers, civil engineers, energy efficient construction, energy audit
• While renewable energy sectors are growing more rapidly than the energy
efficiency industry, the energy efficiency industry is much larger and
will see the greatest number of new jobs added.
• Current RE/EE jobs are located throughout the state, in urban centers,
suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. Most of the firms are relatively
small, though they range in size significantly. These firms employ workers
at all skill levels, from basic and rudimentary to the very highly skilled
technical and professional.
• RE&EE generates about 70% more jobs than the oil and gas sector. RE&EE
is an effective job creation mechanism, generating more than 2.5 times as
many jobs per revenue as the oil and gas sector.
But while there is tremendous opportunity, there is also a real sense of
urgency. Every year’s delay by policy-makers (2009, 2010) has a highly
disproportionate and negative impact on long range growth. The longer that
policy-makers delay in implementing ambitious renewable energy and energy
efficiency programs, the more difficult it will be to achieve the report’s
goals by 2030.
Unless quick action is taken, the U.S. risks losing millions of green jobs
to other nations that offer a more serious and sustained commitment to
growing its green economy. Consider the impressive results of Germany as
an instructive example.
Germany’s population is about one-quarter the size of the U.S., but
Germany has more renewable energy jobs and generates new jobs faster than
the U.S. Germany has 5x the wind sector jobs and 4x the photovoltaic solar
jobs than the U.S. Germany produces half the wind rotors in the world,
one-third the solar panels in the world, and leads the world in biodiesel
The U.S. is in a global marketplace. If we fail to invest in renewable
energy and energy efficiency, the U.S. runs the risk of losing additional
ground in these industries to Germany and other nations. If we refuse to
address policy and regulatory barriers to the sustained development of the
new energy economy, other countries will lead and reap the economic and
environmental benefits. For the U.S. to be competitive in a
carbon-constrained world, the renewable energy and energy efficiency
industries must be a critical economic driver.
About the American Solar Energy Society
For more than 50 years the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) has been
leading national efforts to promote education, public outreach, and
research about solar energy and other sustainable technologies.
About Management Information Services, Inc
Management Information Services, Inc (MISI) is an internationally
recognized, Washington D.C.-based economic research and management
consulting firm with expertise in economic forecasting, analysis of
energy, environmental and electric utility issues, and labor markets.