by Chris de Morsella, Green Economy Post Chris is the co-editor of The Green Executive Recruiter Directory. Follow Chris on Twitter @greeneconpost

Major Green Industries with a significant presence in the state are: solar, biofuel, energy efficiency.

Florida’s attractive business climate and abundant sunshine has spurred the growth of leading renewable energy companies and has attracted investment in large renewable energy projects. Florida is expected to continue its commercial growth and leadership in the solar PV and biomass sectors, in spite of the new Governor’s vocal opposition to renewable energy.

The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report “ found that in 2007 Florida reported 3,831 clean businesses and provided 31,122 green jobs. Employment in the cleantech sector grew by 7.9% over the decade (1998- 2007), which was quite a bit less than the overall jobs growth of 22.4% for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Florida saw around $117 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.

In 2009 Florida had 3,831 clean energy business, and provided 31,100 clean energy-related jobs.

The Florida Department of Education provides this breakdown of jobs data for the states cleantech sector. All figures are for 2006, except energy efficiency which is for 2007. It reported 973 direct and indirect Jobs in photovoltaics; 118 direct and indirect Jobs in solar thermal; 9,548 direct and indirect Jobs in ethanol; 391 direct and indirect Jobs in biodiesel; 9,424 direct and indirect Jobs in biomass power; 688 direct and indirect Jobs in fuel cells; 570 direct and indirect Jobs in hydrogen; 357 state and local renewable energy related jobs; 214 trade and professional renewable energy jobs; and 21,545 jobs in energy efficiency (2007).

Renewable Energy Job in Florida

Florida is a leading producer of electricity from biomass and given the state’s ability to produce large quantities of biomass (lots of sunshine and water) it is likely to continue to expand in this renewable energy area. Florida leads the nation’s in biomass production from sugarcane, citrus and forest residues, as well as urban wood waste. In fact the state accounts for about 7% of total U.S. biomass output.

As the largest producer of biomass in the country, Florida has attracted many companies working to commercialize the next-generation of biofuels with pilot projects using algae, waste, grasses and other cellulosic materials as feedstocks.

With an average of roughly 240 days of year-round sunshine Florida is one of the best places in the country for solar energy generation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, it is a top 10 solar state — in 6th place with 73 MW — for cumulative installed solar capacity in the United States as of 2010. Florida has one of the largest concentrations in the U.S of suppliers of silicon, solar PV module components, and balance of systems components, and it ranks among the top 5 states in the production of solar thermal collectors.

The state is home to the second largest operating solar photovoltaic plant in the nation, the 25 MW Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. Florida’s planned solar PV projects, including the first hybrid solar thermal and combined-cycle plant, position the state to become a national leader in solar energy.

Florida is also researching the potential for exploiting the powerful Gulf Stream current that runs up its eastern shore to generate renewable energy. Florida Atlantic University has applied to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement for a lease to deploy an experimental demonstration device about 17 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Jobs in Florida

A recent study by the American Council for an Energy‐Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reports that by adopting energy efficient strategies Florida will save $28 billion, offset the state’s entire future growth in electric demand and carbon footprint, and create more than 14,000 new jobs by 2023.

The state also has an important presence in energy efficient lighting, which is a green economy sector that is destined to experience long term sustained growth. Florida based Lighting Science Group Corporation designs, develops, manufactures and markets LED lighting solutions that are environmentally friendlier and more energy efficient than traditional lighting products. As of 2010 it had around 400 employees.

Smart Grid Jobs in Florida

Capitalizing on its research strengths in electricity transmission and microgrid technologies, its progressive utilities and cities Florida is positioning itself for growth in the smart grid arena. Florida is one of the top states in the country for building out the smart grid with a major roll-out of smart meters underway in the Miami metro area. Florida Power & Light (FPL) has installed some 2 million smart meters so far. It is estimated that the program has created some 1,000 jobs so far.

Florida is home to several emerging players in the smart grid space such as Orlando based Intellon (Orlando), Thorn Products (Melbourne), Galtronics (Palm Coast), Jabil Circuit (St. Petersrburg), OpenPEAK (Boca Raton), FieldMetrics (Seminole), and Solis Energy (Orlando).

Florida Careers in Sustainability

Sustainability is evolving and becoming more mainstream. As this occurs, it is increasingly becoming a part of business strategy within large corporations. This is particularly true in resource intensive industries and companies with workforces of more than 10,000. Colleges and universities have also increased their hiring of sustainability staff in the last year; especially in schools with enrollment of 10,000 or more and in research institutions.

Generally speaking there is more work in the sustainability field for those living in areas that are home to more large company headquarters and more large universities. As a result those living in Florida should see a significant increase in the number of sustainability opportunities. In fact, Florida is home to 32 Fortune 1000 companies and 222 colleges and universities, and it has three research universities.

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