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- Green Jobs On the Rise
- Green Manufacturing Jobs cropping up in Ontario, California and Wales
- The Low-Hanging Fruit: Energy Efficiency and Housing
- Addressing the Looming Skills Gap: Green Jobs Training Programs
- Green Business is Good Business
- Financing the Transformation
- About Blue Green Canada
1. Green Jobs on the Rise
The green energy sectors continue to grow and create jobs faster than other sectors of the economy.
In the U.S., the solar power industry doubled the number of jobs from 2009 to 2010, from approximately 50,000 in 2009 to 100,000 in 2010, according to the latest reports. And in 2011, employment in the solar industry is expected to grow by 26%. Other green sectors are doing well, too, and estimates suggest that more than 2.5 million Americans will be either directly or indirectly employed in renewables by 2025.
Some states are doing a better job of attracting clean energy investment than others. For example, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm estimates that Michigan has attracted 48 clean-energy companies that are projected to create 89,918 jobs thanks to $9.4 billion in investment.
Renewables are exhibiting good growth potential in Canada too. Clearsky Advisors say Ontario’s solar industry is on track to create 70,000 jobs by 2015, and CanWEA estimates Quebec’s wind energy sector will have created more than 1,300 new permanent jobs and 37,000 jobs during construction phases, also by 2015. They argue that if the Quebec government agrees to continue to install wind capacity to 2025, over 90,000 more jobs could be created.
2. Green Manufacturing Jobs cropping up in Ontario, California and Wales
Green Energy Manufacturing plants continue to open across Ontario. This month, plants opened in Kingston, Cambridge, and Scarborough. And plans to open manufacturing facilities were announced in cities including Hamilton and Windsor. Patrick Persichilli, vice-president of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Commission, estimates that of the 6,000 new jobs created in Windsor in the past 10 months, 5% to 10% are tied to renewable energy. Also, the location of two of Samsung’s four clean energy manufacturing facilities were announced in early December. These two facilities are estimated to create 600 direct manufacturing jobs and 1000 construction and spin-off jobs.
Of course, Ontario doesn’t have a monopoly on clean energy manufacturing. Last month, concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) manufacturer, Amonix Incorporated, broke ground on a new 150 megawatt capacity manufacturing facility in Nevada. It was also announced that Sharp is doubling production of solar panels a their plant in Wales and creating "hundreds of jobs."
3. The Low-Hanging Fruit: Energy Efficiency and Housing
Energy efficiency retrofits continue to be popular for their ability to curb emissions while achieving other policy goals, including job creation, improved energy security, and reduced energy poverty.
The Existing Homes Alliance in the U.K. estimates that retrofitting the residential housing stock could create up to 200,000 jobs per year in the U.K. And if a program were rolled out at a global scale, two to three million green jobs could be created across Europe and the U.S. Industry bodies in the UK estimate the market for green refurbishment and improvement to be worth between £3.5 billion and £6.5 billion per year.
Closer to home, the Green Jobs, Green New York program, which aims to create 14,000 jobs and reduce energy usage through weatherizing 100,000 homes, is now up and running. The program provides New Yorkers with access to energy audits, installation services, low-cost financing, and pathways to training for various green-collar careers. Community leaders in Rochester approve of the program, but are urging government to ensure the jobs don't just go to the lowerst bidder, but are filled by local residents in need.
New York seems to be following the lead of Pennsylvania, where Governor Rendell recently announced that 15,027 homes had been weatherized over the past 11 months, meaning Pennsylvania is now more than halfway toward their goal of retrofitting nearly 30,000 houses. Targeted for low-income homeowners, the program reduces energy costs by an average of $600 annually. Governor Rendell also boasts that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded initiative has helped 1,800 people acquire jobs and skills that can carry well into the future.
Toyota and Panasonic are reported to be making a move into the housing sector, designing concept homes which integrate a number of advanced technologies to improve energy efficienc. The interest of large companies is a sign that the market is becoming increasingly promising and well established.
4. Addressing the Looming Skills Gap: Green Jobs Training Programs
As the green sectors of the economy continue to outpace other sectors, a shortage of skilled workers is looming. The U.S. Association of Energy Engineers reports that 67 percent of their membership believes there is a shortage of energy management practitioners now, and 37 percent said they plan to retire within the next 10 years. According to Brian Douglas, director of business development for the Association, “From a U.S. perspective, we have a lot of work to do to train our workforce for these new green collar jobs.”
In recognition of this potential shortfall, training initiatives are cropping up across the U.S. Announcements this month include:
- Purdue University received a $750,000 grant to advance wind energy education, part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” initiative to advance more efficient and diversified energy use nationally.
- The Renewable Energy Network Empowering Workers, or RENEW, a $4 million project to train 500 low-income workers, was opened in Minnesota.
- The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) have partnered on a Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate program.
- The State Conservation Corps, a program to teach green jobs skills, was launched and students in Baltimore participated in the inaugural class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps.
- San Bernardino County will be offering military veterans an opportunity to receive job training in the solar and wind energy fields.
- Imperial County Electrical Training Center opened near San Diego, where apprentices work on everything from transformer systems to pipe bending and fire alarm systems.
- The Green Energy Training Centre (GETC) was officially opened in, Merseyside, U.K, to provide training in small-scale solar panels and heat pumps and reduce the skills gap of this area of the industry.
5. Green Business is Good Business
Green energy is becoming increasingly profitable. Thanks to better than expected sales, Munich-based Siemens recently upped their revenue targets by 2014 from 25 billion euros to 40 billion euros, having already surpassed the 25 billion euro target this fiscal year, which ended in September.
China Green Energy Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of high tech and environmentally friendly consumer products, also released earnings that beat expectations. In the third quarter of 2010, their revenue increased by 58 % and income increased by 94 %.
Renewable energy may serve to makeover struggling forest products company, AbitibiBowater. CEO David Paterson told Reuters when they emerge from bankruptcy, they “will try to find ways to become a green energy seller.”
In recognition of the burgeoning green energy sector, former executives of Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., once Canada’s largest independent renewable energy producer, have launched a new startup. Called, BluEarth Renewables Inc, the firm is reported to be on the lookout for wind, solar or hydro projects it can invest in.
Large developers and manufacturers are not the only ones profiting from clean energy. Ontario farmers are beginning to receive cheques through the OPA’s feed-in-tariff program. It is also reported that farmland with wind turbines on it is now selling for a premium.
6. Financing the Transformation
Earlier this month, Nasdaq OMX Group, announced that it is broadening the Green Economy Index family, and will begin disseminating 18 new Green Economy Indices. The NASDAQ Green Economy Index Family is designed to track the performance of companies across the Green Economy, which encompasses the spectrum of industries from 13 different sectors: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy Generation, Healthy Living, Advanced Materials, Green Building, Bio/Clean Fuels, Pollution Mitigation, Natural Resources, Recycling, Lighting, Water, Transport and Financial.
Although the green economy is becoming more attractive to private investors, many industry players and business leaders are urging governments to set aside more money for clean energy. In the U.K, members of the green energy industry have expressed concern, saying they don’t believe the £1bn promised by energy secretary Chris Huhne would be enough. Others are also concerned that the scope of projects the bank would back is too narrow, especially because it may not be used to finance home energy retrofits under the government’s so-called “Green Deal”.
In the U.S., a group of business leaders have come together to form the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), a bipartisan group who believe that the U.S. needs a long-term energy strategy to transition to a low-carbon economy and create American jobs. Interestingly, although the AEIC’s members include well-heeled CEO’s and executives, including Bill Gates, the AEIC proposes the Federal Government be the primary source of funds.