The state of Ohio seems to be serious about fostering the development of its green sector, seeing cleantech as a means of escaping the ongoing manufacturing contraction of its traditional industrial base that has been buffeting the state for some twenty years. For example between 2007 and 2010, Ohio has poured more than $2.6 billion into nearly 700 advanced-energy projects. There is some evidence that this strategy is paying off. Ohio ranked among the top five states in the country with the most jobs in clean energy, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly production in 2007, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Ohio reported 2,513 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 35,267 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Ohio cleantech sector grew by a respectable 7.3% compared with a 2.2% drop in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Ohio saw around $74 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
A report by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (2003) projected that the Ohio potential for clean energy will produce as many as 26,000 net jobs by 2010 and 39,000 net new jobs by 2020 with $2.6 billion in increased economic impact by 2010 and $4.5 billion by 2020. The prospects of continued growth in the state’s renewable energy jobs looks promising also because the state has one of the nation’s most ambitious renewable-energy standards, requiring that 25% of its electricity come from alternative sources by 2025.
A new Ceres report finds that implementing two new air pollution rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency 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. This will create significant numbers of new jobs in each of the states within the Eastern Interconnection, and Ohio is expected to see more than 75,000 jobs that are related to the new environmental regulations and the construction that will be required under the new EPA mandates (as well as in newly added capacity).
Ohio has the potential for a large number of energy efficiency related jobs. The state has more than 5,000 businesses engaged directly in HVAC alone, and thousands more in the supply chain related to it. This positions Ohio to benefit from the energy efficiency investments both in the state and elsewhere — by selling high efficiency HVAC systems.
Ohio also has a considerable biofuels market and is the 7th largest ethanol producer in the nation. More than 1,500 people are currently employed in the state’s ethanol, biodiesel and biomass sectors.
Geothermal Energy Jobs in Ohio
One other area that is expected to grow in this state is in the number of jobs in manufacturing operations required to support the construction of geothermal power plants, such as suppliers of power and cooling systems components. Even though Ohio itself has few naturally occurring geothermal resources in the state, it is an important manufacturing center for the type of equipment and components that geothermal plants need and as this sector expands, mostly in the Western regions of the country Ohio (amongst other states) is expected to see an uptick in the number of manufacturing jobs for cooling and power systems components. In 2006, a report (by Management Information Services) estimated that the geothermal energy supported 1,270 direct and indirect jobs in the state.
Wind Energy Jobs in Ohio
Ohio is becoming nationally recognized for the research and development of solar and wind energy technologies, and is emerging as a key player in the Midwest wind supply chain due to its proximity to large wind energy markets. The state has more than 500 companies in the wind supply chain sectors, and it is becoming a leading U.S. component supplier for wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It is also home to three
leading international suppliers who operate research and development centers for wind in the state.
It is estimated that in 2010 the total direct and indirect jobs in Ohio related to wind energy development numbered between 3,000 and 4,000.
Solar Energy Jobs in Ohio
Ohio is home to many leading solar industry firms which are engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of solar technologies. In 2010, Ohio commissioned one of its first utility scale solar projects: a 12 MW plant in Wyandot County. A 50 MW solar array will be built on reclaimed land in the south-east part of Ohio, which would be the state’s second large-scale solar farm and one of the largest projects in the nation. The project is said to have attracted two prominent Spanish solar manufacturers to set up facilities in Ohio to help supply panels needed for the project. FirstSolar also has a major manufacturing facility locate in the state in the city of Perrysburg. The plant has an annual production capacity of 256 MW and employs around 1,000 people in this facility.
The Ohio Senate recently (6/14/11) approved a 3-year extension of last session’s “Senate Bill 232,” which significantly reduced the tax burden on certain advanced energy projects, including solar. This will help to spur development of roof top solar in the state and help to create jobs for solar installers and throughout the solar energy value chain. In addition the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it is offering a $275 million loan guarantee to California-based alternative energy manufacturer Calisolar Inc. to build a plant in Ontario, Ohio, which will lead to 1,000 new solar jobs for the state.
Ohio Careers in Sustainability
Sustainability is evolving and becoming more mainstream. As this occurs, it is increasingly becoming a part of business strategy within large corporations. This is particularly true in resource intensive industries and companies with workforces of more than 10,000. Colleges and universities have also increased their hiring of sustainability staff in the last year; especially in schools with enrollment of 10,000 or more and in research institutions.
Generally speaking there is more work in the sustainability field for those living in areas that are home to more large company headquarters and more large universities. As a result those living in Ohio should see a significant increase in the number of sustainability opportunities. In fact, Ohio is home to 61 Fortune 1000 companies and 253 colleges and universities. It has five research universities.
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