Nebraska is a state that is rich in natural resources, sun, wind, and timber. The state’s big agriculture sector produces large amounts of biomass in addition to crops that are currently being directly used to make ethanol and biodiesel. Nebraska has some unique advantages in wind, in fact it is ranked third (by the NREL) in the nation for having the largest wind energy potential, and is one of four states with land most suitable for wind energy development.
The 2010 Nebraska Department of Labor’s Green Jobs Survey reports that at time of the survey, there were an estimated 30,725 green jobs in Nebraska, which is about 3.4 percent of the total workforce. The report also estimated that the state will add nearly 1,700 more green jobs over the next two years.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Nebraska reported 368 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 5,292 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Nebraska cleantech sector grew by 108.6% compared with a 4.9% contraction in overall employment for the state over the same period.
Renewable Energy Jobs in Nebraska
In 2009 Nebraska had 32 renewable energy companies and provided 616 direct and indirect renewable energy related jobs.
Nebraska is ranked second in the nation in ethanol production and has 27 operating ethanol plants. In addition, it has one biodiesel plant producing 10 million gallons per year.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) ranks Nebraska 3rd in the nation for wind energy potential at 80 meters across the state; though the state has lagged behind neighboring states in exploiting this potential. The state, at the end of 2010 had around 213 MW of installed wind capacity; neighboring Iowa by comparison had 3,675 MW of capacity installed.
At least two wind farms are expected to begin operation within the next year, which would together bring 141 MW of new wind power online. In addition, Nebraska is home to several major wind energy manufacturers. One, Katana Summit, a major wind turbine tower manufacturer, opened a facility in Columbus in 2008. Way Wind LLC of Madison, Wis., and Nordex USA of Frankfurt, Germany, are planning 120MW capacity wind farm on 8,000 acres of land south of the Wayne County. The project is expected to cost around $250 million, and he hopes it will be up and running by the end of 2013.
Waste-to-energy (WTE) projects provide an opportunity for large energy consumers to reduce energy costs by generating electricity, heat or fuel from readily-available waste streams. In Nebraska, WTE projects include several landfill gas operations that generate electricity and biogas for local industries and utilities.
Although Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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.
Environmental Jobs in Nebraska
A new Ceres report finds that implementing two new air pollution rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will create 1.5 million jobs over the next five years. The power sector will invest almost $200 billion total in capital improvements over the next five years. Among the states that will see the big job gains from this construction activity are Nebraska. The Ceres report estimates that around 28,000 new environmental remediation and pollution control related jobs will be created in Nebraska as a result of these environmental standards, with most of these jobs being related to better pollution control.