The newest clean energy report from the Pew Research Center
(funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts) shows China taking the lead over the United States for overall clean energy finance and investment in 2009, although the U.S. still led, by almost a full percentage point, in renewable energy capacity.
The G20 is a consortium of developed or developing nations which include 20 individual countries plus the European Union, or EU, and whose economies comprise 80 percent of world trade and 85 percent of the world’s gross national product (GNP).
Because of the funding focus, information on renewable energy jobs is slim, and the report – while highlighting the fact that the clean energy economy is one of the “great global economic opportunities of the 21st century” – emphasizes only that stronger U.S. policy is needed to prevent the nation slipping even further behind the world in this particular market segment.
In fact, the June 2009 Pew Report was more specific to jobs, noting that – from 1998 to 2007 – jobs in the renewable energy sector grew 2.5 times faster than elsewhere.
This resulted in the creation of 770,000 jobs, which the newer report says are “poised for even greater growth”, given the restored enthusiasm of consumers recovering from a recession and venture capitalists like Lord Drayson
and Hermes Private Equity emerging from their recessionary strongholds to evaluate emerging, cleantech IPOs
The 770,000 clean tech jobs stand favorably alongside
1.3 million energy jobs (utilities, coal mining, and oil and gas extraction), and compete strongly with 989,000 telecommunications jobs, according to a 2009 Clean Edge report (which draws its material from a number of sources, including the 2009 Pew report).
This report also demonstrated the strength of the solar photovoltaic energy industry, where 200,000 direct and indirect global jobs compete with 400,000 global wind power jobs.
In spite of the number of wind-related jobs, however, solar PV stands at the top of a list of five clean tech industry categories (solar, biofuels, conservation, smart grid and wind), while wind now occupies a bottom slot. Furthermore, says the Clean Edge report - Clean Energy Trends 2010
, by 2019 the global solar PV and wind power sectors will push job creation to 3.3 million.
According to David Prend, director of the National Venture Capital Association: “Clean tech is where [information technology] was 30 years ago and biotech was 20 years ago…”
In 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (the group that compiled the statistics for the newest Pew report), US$200 billion worldwide will be invested in clean energy, climate and environmental programs, and associated jobs.
This is supported, if more modestly, by figures
from Sustainablebusiness.com which shows investment in 1Q 2010 at US$1.9 billion, up almost 30 percent from the previous quarter and 83 percent higher than a year ago.
In addition to venture capital and private investment, governments around the world earmarked $184 billion for clean energy in 2008-2009, most of it in the U.S. and China.
Unfortunately, only 9 percent ever reached the clean tech industries themselves, or about $8 billion in the U.S., and this translated into a dismal clean tech jobs report for 2009 that had even industry experts asking how so much money had failed to produce jobs – a situation not much improved by President Barack Obama’s Jan. 2010 announcement of US$2.3 billion more to create clean tech manufacturing jobs
The jobs will certainly be needed. A March report
from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, or LBNL, estimates clean tech jobs growth from now to 2020 could reach as high as 1.3 million. The problem, notes LBNL (an energy research arm of the U.S. government), is that these jobs may not emerge, or may not provide individuals adequately trained for clean tech sectors, most notably smart grid upgrades.
According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) third quarterly report
on ARRA economic impacts, 1Q 2010 jobs rose by between 2.2 and 2.8 million, with the tax relief and income support provisions accounting for half of that amount.
Thus one could extrapolate, in the very worst case, that ARRA stimulus funding for solar, wind, biomass and other clean tech energy sources accounted for about a million clean tech jobs.
Clearly, naysayers and skeptical traditional energy industry executives aside, clean tech is the sector college students should be investigating.
Some of the hottest jobs in this sector, according to Clean Tech, include: solar energy systems designer; “green” (LEED-certified) building energy auditor; mechanical engineer; civil engineer; IT power system control craftsman; control system engineer; electrical systems inspector; and energy management solutions logistics analyst.
The hottest cities? San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Newark, Boston, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Portland. But should your car break down in Detroit or Wichita, you will likely be the most qualified clean energy individual for a hundred miles, and that might be nice, too.