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: biofuel, solar, wind, smart grid, cleantech manufacturing.

The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Mississippi reported 454 cleantech businesses that provided 3,200 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Mississippi cleantech sector grew by a very respectable 24.8%, which was a much higher growth rate than experienced by the overall economy, which grew by 3.6% over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Mississippi saw around $30 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.

In 2009 there were 16 renewable energy companies in Mississippi and the state provided 393 direct and indirect jobs in renewable energy.

According to the Mississippi Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Report, as of October, 2010, there has been around $200 million in capital investment in different projects and businesses pertaining to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biomass based products. In addition to the state’s current development, new projects are also preparing to start in Mississippi. In the near future an additional investment totaling over one billion dollars will be made in various projects that are tied to renewable energy production in Mississippi. These forthcoming endeavors will be helping to supply new forms of biofuels to Mississippi and the nation, utilizing such varied feedstocks as wood chips and municipal wastes. Additional projects will focus on manufacturing components for the generation of power through the solar-photovoltaic process. These enterprises are expected to yield over 2,000 more direct and indirect jobs.

Renewable Energy Jobs in Mississippi

The state is home to six biodiesel plants and one bioethanol plant, and plans have been announced to build four commercial scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, which would bring 71 mGy of next generation biofuels online in 2011 and 2012.

In 2009 BlueFire Renewables announced the selection of Fulton, Mississippi as the planned site for their proposed cellulosic ethanol plant. This facility, which is currently in development, will be capable of producing about 19 million gallons of ethanol per year, using non-food cellulosic waste for the biofuel feedstock. BlueFire Renewables recently completed a deal with MasTec to provide a turnkey ethanol facility for $296 million.

In 2012, the Canadian company Enerkem plans to have a new facility running in Pontotoc, Mississippi. This plant, which will use municipal wastes as a feedstock, will have an initial production capacity of 10 million gallons per year. As of 2009, Enerkem has received $50 million in funding from the United States Department of Energy for the construction of this facility, which is set to begin in 2011.

KiOR, headquartered in Pasadena, Texas, is utilizing a method of catalytic conversion to turn cellulosic feedstocks, including timber, wood waste, and sawdust, into a crude oil substitute. It is planning major investments in Mississippi. and will initially build three Mississippi facilities: Columbus, Newton, and Franklin County, and expects to build two additional facilities in coming years. KiOR will invest more than $500 million in Mississippi and has committed to create 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.

Mississippi has sixteen solar-photovoltaic installations with an installed capacity of 70 kilowatts currently operating around the state.

Stion, a venture-backed manufacturer of high-efficiency, low-cost thin film solar panels, announced the company is locating a 100-megawatt solar panel production facility in Hattiesburg. The operations will be located in the Sunbeam building. The production line is the first phase of a company investment of $500 million that will create 1,000 new jobs over the next six years. In addition, a planned crystalline silicon module manufacturing plant in Senatobia, which will create at least 500 jobs and have a manufacturing capacity of 100 MW.

California-based Twin Creeks Technologies, Inc. broke ground in June of 2010 on a solar panel manufacturing plant in Senatobia, MS. Over the next five years Twin Creeks plans to invest $175 million in the Senatobia site, with additional investment to occur as maintenance and other work occur at the factory. At full capacity Twin Creeks estimates that they will employ over 500 people at the Senatobia factory, along with numerous indirect jobs stemming from construction and maintenance.

The state’s cleantech manufacturing activities also include: an existing OEM wind turbine assembly plant.

Smart Grid, Green Building and Energy Efficiency Jobs in Mississippi

Mississippi is home to a globally recognized leader in smart grid technology. Jackson – based SmartSynch, a member of Advance Mississippi, manufactures smart meters, software, and other components of the smart grid infrastructure.

Soladigm, a company based in California’s Silicon Valley, announced it would build its first commercial plant in Olive Branch, MS. According to its website, Soladigm is dedicated to the construction of green buildings in order to reduce energy use. At this facility, Soladigm will produce energy-efficient electrochromatic windows that change tint level from clear to dark on demand. This allows for more control over the amount of light, and therefore heat, that comes into a room. Soladigm is expected to have a capital investment of $130 million in the Olive Branch facility, which should create over 300 new jobs.

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