Kansas is a state with an amazing wind potential that it has recently begun to seriously develop. The state is also beginning to develop a wind energy manufacturing base that will help it emerge as a center for the wind industry in a supplier role as well as a wind energy producing state.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Kansas reported 591 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 8,017 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Kansas cleantech sector grew by 51% compared with a 0.3% contraction in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Kansas saw around $13 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
The 2009 KANSAS Green Jobs Report, finds that Kansas had 20,047 primary green jobs and 26,380 support green jobs in 2009. This was equivalent to 1.5% and 1.9% respectively of Kansas’ total employment in the fourth quarter of 2008. The largest percentage of primary green jobs was in the core green-related area of increasing energy efficiency (52.7%). Another 19.4% of Kansas’ green jobs were in agriculture and natural resource conservation, 16.4% were in pollution prevention and environmental cleanup and 7.1% were in producing renewable energy. Around 4.4% of primary green jobs were in the core green-related area of clean transportation and fuels.
The report goes on to find that the four industries with the largest numbers of primary green jobs were specialty trade contractors, construction of buildings, administrative & support services, and professional, scientific & technical services. Together, they accounted for more than half (55.0%) of all primary green jobs. In addition the five occupations with the largest numbers of primary green jobs were: carpenters; heating, air conditioning & refrigeration mechanics & installers; construction laborers; landscaping & groundskeeping workers; and assemblers & fabricators.
In terms of educational requirements, 1.5% of primary green jobs required a graduate degree, 10.5% required a bachelor’s degree, 10.9% required an associate/ vocational degree, 1.8% required some college but no degree, 41.5% required a high school diploma or GED and 28.0% had no educational requirement.
Two new occupations included in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system were wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic installers. The former occupation accounted for 1.6% of the total primary green jobs in Kansas in 2009 despite having only been added to the SOC in 2010. Another new and emerging occupation was identified in Kansas. Directors/managers of sustainability were broadly described as employees who were engaged in researching green practices, activities and opportunities for their company. Such a position did not fit well into any of the existing six-digit occupational codes.
Kansas had 20,047 primary green jobs in 2009 this is projected to increase to 30,236 primary green jobs by 2012 according to surveyed employers’ expectations of the next two to three years. Employers projected the largest two-to-three year increase to be in the core area of renewable energy (121.4%). They also expected green employment to increase 56.9% in increasing energy efficiency, 37.5% in clean transportation and fuels, 32.7% in agriculture and natural resource conservation and 25.7% in pollution prevention and environmental cleanup.
Of the Kansas employers that had training needs related to green skills and knowledge, 58.6% were using on-the-job training to prepare their current workers while 50.3% were using in-house training and another 41.8% were using vendor training. The most common green skills and knowledge that current and future employees needed were related to waste minimization, energy conservation and environmental policies/regulations. The future demand for green skills and knowledge is significantly greater than the current demand.
Renewable Energy Jobs in Kansas
In 2009 Kansas had 43 renewable energy companies and 1,204 people were directly or indirectly employed in the states renewable energy sector.
Kansas has the third most promising wind resource potential in the country and is one of the top ten states in installed wind capacity. In the period 2008-2009, Kansas’ wind industry more than doubled, adding over 660 MW of wind energy. Growth was less aggressive in 2010.
Kansas attracted its first major wind energy manufacturing facility in the second quarter of 2009, when turbine manufacturer Siemens announced its first American nacelle assembly facility in Hutchinson, Kansas. Siemens invested $50 million in its new facility, which opened in November 2010, and will employ 400 workers. The effects of its investment will be felt throughout the Kansas supply chain, allowing an ever-increasing number of Kansas firms to participate in the wind energy industry.
At least seven facilities in Kansas currently manufacture for the wind industry and an additional four new facilities are announced. The Siemens wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hutchinson,which opened in late 2010, represents the first major original equipment manufacturer (OEM) facility in Kansas. Plans have also been announced for at least one other wind manufacturing plant in Kansas.
Kansas is home to multiple bioethanol plants and is ranked eighth in the nation in bioethanol production. The nation’s first commercial-scale hybrid cellulosic ethanol facility and traditional grain ethanol plant is being developed in Hugoton, a $550 million facility which would produce 100 million gallons of ethanol annually using corn stover, wheat straw and switchgrass as feedstock. The project is currently applying for a federal loan guarantee for support, and is expected to become operational in 2013.
Although Kansas has few 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 Kansas a long way away from the hot geothermal steam reservoirs. In addition the state’s own geothermal heat pump (GHP) industry is taking off and is helping the state increase its energy efficiency.