According to the Idaho Green Jobs Survey Report published in 2010 there were 17,059 green jobs in the state or 3% of the total statewide employment. The report found that over 60% of the green jobs surveyed were found clustered within three major occupation groups. The construction and extraction occupation group had the most green jobs with 23%, followed by the life, physical and social science occupation group at 19% and architecture and engineering occupation group with 11%.
Pollution & waste control accounted for 32% (5,498 jobs) of the green jobs in Idaho closely followed by sustainable agriculture & natural resource conservation, which accounted for 31% (5,219 jobs). Energy efficiency & conservation provided 20% (3,372 jobs) of the total, while renewable energy provided 17% (2,970 jobs).
The report projects that green jobs will grow by 2.2% by 2012. It concludes that Idaho’s green employment is diverse throughout the economy. Nearly every industry has some level of green employment and there are many different types of occupations that can be considered green.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Idaho reported 428 cleantech businesses that provided 4,517 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Idaho cleantech sector grew by an astounding 126.1%, which was far surpassed the overall employment growth of 13.8% over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Illinois saw around $28 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
Renewable Energy Jobs in Idaho
Idaho leads the U.S. in clean electricity as a percentage of its total generation – at an astounding 84% – when you include hydro and biomass. In 2009 the state has 24 renewable energy companies and provided 970 direct and indirect renewable energy jobs. This is mostly because Idaho is one of the biggest hydropower states in the country.
The state has significant undeveloped hydro capacity, including in existing dams that are currently producing no power. The US Hydropower Resources Assessment states that there are in fact 86 dams currently producing no power in the state with a cumulative capacity of 447MW. In addition this mountainous state has significant run of the river small hydro capacity that could be developed. Hydro presents many environmental challenges that must be addressed, but Idaho is a well suited for continued development of this abundant natural resource.
Geothermal energy is growing in Idaho and the state has the third most new geothermal projects being added in the country behind Nevada and California. The Raft River Geothermal Project is a a 13-MW plant, which is located in the Raft River region of southern Idaho, approximately 200 miles southeast of Boise. Raft River geothermal resources average around 280F and may hold enough energy to produce over 100 MW.
Idaho has a number of geothermal plants in development, including the 100 MW Idatherm plant in the permitting stage in Willow Springs, Idaho.
In 1892, the nation’s first geothermal district heating system was established in Boise, and is still in use today. District heating systems continue to heat residences and businesses in the state, including the state capitol. Idaho is home to companies and university research institutions focused on solar, fuel cells, advanced battery technologies, kinetic energy capture, biomass, and alternative fuels. Solar and wind companies have set up manufacturing facilities in the state. Idaho is the 3rd largest dairy producer in the nation and is setting up anaerobic digestion projects throughout the state.
Nordic Windpower was awarded a conditional commitment for a $16 million federal loan guarantee to support the expansion of its wind turbine assembly plant in Pocatello, which would create 75 jobs.
Idaho has 2 biomass plants. A typical 30 MW biopower plant employs about 120 workers (in plant and outside).