The RES Alliance for Jobs, a coalition of America’s renewable energy companies and national renewable energy associations, has released a new study showing that a 25% by 2025 national Renewable Electricity Standard would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the United States. The study found that a 25% by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more renewable energy jobs over no-national RES policy. This additional employment is equivalent to 2.36 million additional job-years by 2025.

by Naimish Upadhyay, Green Economy Post

A coalition of leading renewable energy advocates has announced a new study showing that a 25% by 2025 national Renewable Electricity Standard would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the United States. Instituting such a standard would also prevent a near-term collapse in some industries, according to the same report.

The “Jobs Impact of a National Renewable Electricity Standard” study, conducted by Navigant Consulting, Inc (NYSE: NCI), was commissioned by the RES Alliance for Jobs – a coalition of renewable energy companies and national renewable energy associations. The Alliance advocates for the Congressional enactment of a strong federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).

The study found that a 25% by 2025 national RES (i.e. a federal standard requiring all utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025) would result in 274,000 more renewable energy jobs over no-national RES policy (see Figure 1). This additional employment is equivalent to 2.36 million job-years by 2025 and represents an incredible opportunity to domestically employ Americans in the new energy economy. The additional jobs include gains of 116,000 in the wind industry, 60,000 in biomass, 50,000 in solar, 34,000 in hydropower and 15,000 in waste‐to‐energy. A separate 2009 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted a similar job growth if a 25% by 2025 RES is enacted.

Increase in Renewable Electricity Supported Jobs: 2009-2025
Increase in Renewable Electricity Supported Jobs: 2009-2025

The Alliance predicts that every region of the United States would see the creation of new renewable energy jobs. While many of the states with renewable generation gaps relative to RES targets currently do not have state‐level renewable energy standards, they are likely to witness a spur of renewable-energy-supported jobs with a strong national RES. Regions are expected to take advantage of the abundant forms of renewable energy found across the country. The Southeast would see biomass jobs double, particularly in Louisiana and Florida, with hydropower and waste‐to‐energy jobs also expanding throughout the region. Under a strong national policy, the states of the Great Plains and Midwest would employ thousands developing their wind resources, while the Western United States would see job gains in its solar and hydropower industries.

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Gross Increase in Renewable Electricity Supported Jobs: Cumulative 2009-2025

Gross Increase in Renewable Electricity Supported Jobs: Cumulative 2009-2025

Gross Increase in Renewable Electricity Supported Jobs: Cumulative 2009-2025

While the study shows the potential for hundreds of thousands of jobs supported by renewable electricity by 2025, it also reveals that without a strong national policy, the United States actually sheds clean energy jobs in many states: North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.

Arguing that aggressive near‐term RES targets are critical to ensure global competitiveness for the US renewable energy industry, the study recommends federally legislating 12% by 2014 and 20% by 2020 RES. While 37 countries around the world, including China and all of the European Union member countries have set renewable energy targets, U.S. policy has lagged behind. The near‐term renewable targets in other countries will draw the growing renewable energy manufacturing sector to those countries if the U.S. does not set its own aggressive targets. Strong long‐term targets are key to investment and jobs in the renewable electricity industry.

The study further suggests that a strong long‐term target, such as the 25% by 2025 RES, will be needed to attract long‐term manufacturing investment and project development. While production tax credits are critical to the survival and growth of many renewable electricity technologies, the hard targets in a national RES will ensure a growing market demand for renewable power since manufacturers rely on these long‐term market signals to make significant capital investments in new facilities. The pie chart in Figure 4 illustrates the distribution of direct jobs supported by the renewable electricity industry under a 25% by 2025 RES, 52% of which would be in the manufacturing sector.

The entire “Jobs Impact of a National Renewable Electricity Standard” report can be viewed here.

© 2010, Naimish Upadhyay. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Naimish Upadhyay (9 Articles)

Naimish Upadhyay recently graduated with an MS degree in Environmental Science & Policy from the University of South Florida, where he focused on sustainability policies of Florida businesses and local governments. While in graduate school, he was an active member of the Emerging Green Builder’s USF chapter (http://ctr.usf.edu/egb/) as well as the Student Taskforce on Campus Sustainability at his university. Naimish previously taught college level Environmental Science and Environmental Biotechnology in India. Given his research and project experience, Naimish is eager to build a professional career in the areas of business sustainability, environmental management systems, sustainability assessment and reporting, and corporate social responsibility. Naimish looks forward to reader feedback and can be reached via email naimishupadhyay@gmail.com.