As the nation seemingly and slowly pulls out from deep recession there is indication that cleantech sector employment is helping to lift some areas of the country and is starting to provide some jobs in what has been a painfully jobless “recovery” for far too many. This post, by John Addison focuses on some areas of his home state of California that are helping to drive the California economy and boosting jobs growth.

by John Addison, publisher and editor of the Clean Fleet Report and author of Save Gas, Save the Planet.

Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and information technology are all helping the U.S. overcome a severe recession and keep more people from losing their jobs. From our San Francisco roof deck, I am encouraged to see energy efficient homes, solar roofs, and electric buses gliding by. I am also discouraged to see massive ships from Asia sail into the harbor ladened with hundreds of rail cars full of Asian goods, then leave for distant customers with much lighter loads.

As trillion dollar industries are disrupted, the stakes are high for jobs and economies. The U.S. can win or lose in a future that includes energy efficient materials, LED lights, electric cars, high-speed rail, wind power, solar power, smart grids and smart apps.

Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 Details U.S. Growth

As the economy officially pulls out of The Great Recession, clean energy continues to fuel the plans of many cities, states, nations, investors, and companies as they look for the next wave of innovation and growth. In its second annual look at the state of clean-tech jobs in the U.S. and globally, Clean Edge published its Clean Tech Job Trends 2010. The report looks beyond green job evangelism to provide key insights and a sober analysis of the most important employment trends globally. I was particularly interested in my home state; cleantech is particularly important to California’s economic future. The Report states:

“Not surprisingly, the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley repeats as the top area for cleantech jobs, with Los Angeles second. Even in its challenging economic times, California continues to see fairly robust job activity in clean-tech startups and established players, with the state’s high-tech giants like Cisco, Intel, and Google aggressively expanding their smart-grid initiatives. San Diego (seventh) and Sacramento (15th) give California four cities in the Top 15, but the Golden State faces an uncertain clean-tech future if the state’s voters pass a November ballot measure, Proposition 23, that would suspend the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction laws.” [Proposition 23 was defeated in the November election by an overwhelming margin of California’s voters]

Tesla Motors provides a good example of job creation. In 2012, it plans to reopen a shuttered plant owned that was owned by a Toyota (TM) – General Motors JV. The plant will create about 1,000 jobs as two exciting new electric vehicles roll-out: the Tesla Model S (TSLA) premium sedan with a electric range that far exceeds the Nissan LEAF (NSANY) and Ford (F) Focus Electric; and the new Toyota RAV4 EV, long an SUV favorite of EV enthusiasts. In the new world of global “co-opetition,” Tesla is 2% owned by Toyota and 5% owned by Daimler. The two auto giants admire Tesla’s innovation, first to market speed, and battery-pack technology.

Northern California is also rich with smart grid leaders including Silver Spring Networks, Cisco (CSCO), and EPRI. Solar energy innovators abound including Bright Source, Sun Power (SPWRA), and MiaSole.

Southern California is rich innovators making gasoline and diesel not with petroleum, but with algae, waste, and cellulose. In San Diego’s biotech research center, surrounding the University of California at San Diego and the Salk Institute are over 40 companies working on biofuels from algae. Sapphire Energy and Synthetic Genomics both have received over $100 billion from private equity investors to expand their research and production of algal fuels.

These are a few examples from my home state of California. The Clean Edge report covers exciting opportunities nationwide, the dynamics of U.S. – China competition, and 3 million jobs globally in a variety of billion dollar cleantech sectors. Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 is recommended reading for everyone. Click here to download the free report.


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© 2011, John Addison. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: John Addison (2 Articles)

John Addison is the publisher and editor of the Clean Fleet Report. He is the author of Save Gas, Save the Planet and many articles at Clean Fleet Report. John is a member of the Western Automotive Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. He has taught courses at U.C. Davis and U.C. Santa Cruz Extension. John Addison has delivered over 1,000 speeches, workshops, and moderated conference panels in over 20 countries. Invite him to be part of your next conference or event. Contact John Addison.

  • John Whitney AIA

    California is not the only place where clean energy promotion has led to job growth. In Michigan, enlightened (and perhaps slightly desperate) clean energy incentivization efforts initiated by past Governor Granholm, have led to quite a bit of job growth in recent years. And new Governor Snyder (a self described “good green republican”) seems intent on continuing Granholm’s efforts. See:

    In the past couple of years, sixteen advanced battery companies located or expanded in the state in 2010, reflecting nearly $6 billion in total investment with a potential to create 62,000 new jobs. The state’s solar industry attracted $4.1 billion in public and private investment over the past three years, which brought the number of Michigan solar jobs up to 6,300—the fourth highest in the nation.

    Wind energy is also growing, with several manufacturers recently announcing plans to build next-generation turbines and castings in Michigan. This includes URV’s turbine castings foundry, likely the first foundry built in the United States in 40 years; Astraeus’ advanced high-volume turbine manufacturing hub; and most recently, Northern Power System’s commercial-scale turbine assembly plant, slated to be the first constructed in the state.

  • Bernard Ferret

    SunPower, Tesla Motors (, and SilverSpring Networks have together created hundreds of green jobs in 2010. They’ve been on the Green Job Bank top 50 consistently during 2010 and 2011. They’re great examples of the diversity of the green industry.