Massachusetts is successfully leveraging its major research universities and existing high tech sector backed by forward looking state government programs in order to stake a position for itself in the growing cleantech economy.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report “ found that in 2007 Massachusetts reported 1,912 clean businesses and provided 26,678 green jobs. For the decade running from 1998- 2007 the state enjoyed a steady 4.3% growth in cleantech employment, compared with a 4.4% negative rate of job loss for the overall job market in Massachusetts over the same period. The report also found that between 2006-2008: $1.278 billion of venture capital flowed into cleantech startups in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts placed third (after California and Oregon) in Clean Edge’s second annual U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index that is an analysis and ranking of how all 50 states, and the individuals, businesses, and organizations that operate there, compare across the clean-energy spectrum. The city of Boston also ranked in third place in the country for metro areas that reported the highest numbers of cleantech jobs.
Energy Efficiency Jobs
In spite of a general and persistent weakness in new construction due to the global recession, one building-related field has continued to grow in the state and that is retrofits tied to improving the efficiency of facilities. This growing body of evidence indicates that investments in energy efficiency hold tremendous job creation potential in addition to the long term benefits of improved energy efficiency and as a result investments in energy efficiency by government and the business sector is starting to skyrocket, which mean there will be many more jobs in the energy efficiency sector over the next few years.
For the second year in a row (2010) Massachusetts ranked #2 in the list of the top states in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The state government has taken the lead in promoting energy retrofits in the state, and has earmarked $1.4 billion to create thousands of jobs in the depressed construction sector retrofitting more than 100,000 residential units and 20,000 commercial and municipal structures over the next three years. Planned investments in energy efficiency represent significant potential for economic growth for Massachusetts.
Renewable Energy Jobs
Massachusetts is a well recognized global hub for the research and innovation of high-tech renewable energy technologies. R&D organizations located in the state, along with the state’s leading university research institutes, are engaged in basic energy sciences research, next-generation project development, and other activities. A fairly substantial number of renewable energy startups have sprung up in the Boston area as a result. The state has a growing number of cutting-edge clean tech companies, including, notably, companies in solar PV production, wind turbine manufacturing, energy storage and many others.
Massachusetts has around 113 renewable energy companies that provided an estimated 2,595 direct and indirect jobs (in 2009), including between 100 to 500 jobs in wind (depending on how these are counted)
Massachusetts solar energy startup 1366 (named after the number of watts per square meter that hits the Earth’s upper atmosphere) just received a $150 million loan guarantee from the DOE that will be used to build a new manufacturing plant for its innovative cost cutting technology in the state. The new plant is scheduled to be fully operational by 2013 and will produce 20 megawatts per year of capacity, employ 100 people and further New England’s role as a clean energy center. This first plant will soon be followed on by a larger 1GW capacity fab plant whose U.S. location has yet to be determined.
The Cape Wind project became the first offshore wind farm in the United States to receive all required permits in January 2011, after 10 years of work on the project. The project will have a nameplate capacity of 420 MW when complete, and is expected to exceed $1 billion in expenditures and is projected to create between 600 to 1,000 jobs from construction of Cape Wind offshore wind farm.
In part leveraging this big offshore wind project Massachusetts is also seeking to lead in the production of offshore wind turbines in the U.S. with a facility in development in New Bedford. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a new multi-purpose marine commerce terminal that will be built in the port of New Bedford to support the delivery, assembly, and installation of offshore wind turbines, as well as shipping and other commercial activities. Cape Wind Associates will use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal for its first-in-the-nation offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
TPI Composites, Inc., a leading global supplier of wind turbine blades, announced plans to open a wind blade innovation center in Fall River, Massachusetts that will support TPI’s manufacturing facilities around the world. The Fall River plant will serve as a center for development of advanced blade manufacturing technology and a launching pad for new wind blade products.
Massachusetts is also a growing hub of smart grid activity, in part because of its existing high tech sector and its many renowned research universities. The state is well positioned to benefit as this sector begins to experience large growth over the coming years. Some of these firms located in the state or having major manufacturing or R&D facilities there include: SATCON (Boston), Solectria Renewables (Lawrence), American Super conductor (Devens), EnerNOC (Boston), KEMA (Burlington), and OutSmart Power System (Natick).