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, sustainability, wind, hydropower, energy efficiency.

The Pew Center of The States Clean Economy Report found that in 2007 Georgia had 1,827 cleantech businesses and that the state had 16,222 green jobs. Its green sector grew 10.8% for the decade of 1998-2007 compared with 15.7% for the overall economy. Between 2006 and 2008 the state saw nearly $180 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech economy.

In 2010 the greater Atlanta metro area that includes the cities of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Marietta ranked in twelfth place in Clean Edge’s Top 15 Metro Areas for cleantech job activity.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Jobs in Georgia

In 2009 the state had 51 renewable energy companies and 2,096 people were directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy generation in Georgia.

A consortium of companies is expected to invest $1 billion in the construction of three hydroelectric projects totaling 450 MW on the Rioni River in the Republic of Georgia. Georgia is trying to convince potential investor to build 78 hydropower projects with a total capacity of 1,031 MW, and the state’s energy ministry is seeking operators to design, build, finance, operate, maintain, and own the proposed hydro projects. Additionally the 750-MW Khudoni hydro project on Georgia’s Enguri River is expected to be completed in 2010.

Georgia is the #7 state for solar jobs. There are an estimated 4,500 solar jobs and 62 solar firms in the state.

Georgia is home to a solar manufacturing facility that is currently expanding its capacity to handle 170 MW of power. Plans have been announced for another solar module facility that will have 800 MW of capacity after its final stage of expansion, and will bring $30 million in investment and 350 new jobs to Georgia’s economy within the next five years.

Huge investments have been made for the use of renewable biomass, providing a sizeable portion of the state’s electricity generation. Georgia is home to a 100 million gallon per year bioethanol project that was the first large-scale bioethanol project in the southeastern U.S. Production started at the facility in October of 2008, and it remains the largest biofuel producer in Georgia.

The construction of a new large wood pellet production plant in Waycross in Ware County was announced in January 2010 and is the result of a collaboration between RWE Innogy of Germany and BMC of Sweden. It has created 85 jobs, representing a $175 million investment.

The first major wind plant in the southeast U.S is planned for a site off the coast of Savannah. At least 5 manufacturing facilities in Georgia currently manufacture components for the wind energy industry, and the state attracted its first major wind manufacturing facility in the middle of 2010 when ZF Group announced plans to open a gearbox manufacturing facility in Gainesville, GA. The facility will eventually employ over 200 workers.

Although the state has no naturally occurring geothermal sources it’s manufacturers do supply geothermal developments in the western parts of the country where the best geothermal resources are located with equipment such as power and cooling systems components. Because of this the increase in western geothermal production is having a positive employment impact in these types of manufacturers even though they are located in Georgia a long way away from the hot geothermal steam reservoirs.

Since the passage of the ARRA in February 2009, GEFA has awarded $185 million in stimulus funds for the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in the state with the bulk of these funds going towards energy retrofit projects in state facilities.

Georgia 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 Georgia should see a significant increase in the number of sustainability opportunities. In fact, Georgia is home to 29 Fortune 1000 companies and 140 colleges and universities. It has three research universities.

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