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:environmental remediation, energy efficiency, green building, solar, wind, biofuel, biomass, sustainability, geothermal, wave energy, clean transportation.

According to the The Greening of Oregon’s Workforce report, published by Oregon Employment Department Workforce and Economic Research Division in June 2009, Oregon had an estimated 51,402 green jobs in 2008, spread across 5,025 employers. Green jobs accounted for 3% of Oregon’s private, state government, and local government employment.

The report found that green jobs are not limited to a small number of industries or occupations, but instead they are spread across the whole economy, which is why they titled the report “The Greening of Oregon’s Workforce”. Green jobs were reported in all broad industry groups surveyed. The three industries with the most green jobs were construction, wholesale and retail trade, and administrative and waste services. Combined, these industries account for 47% of Oregon’s green jobs.

This survey also found that Oregon’s green jobs were spread across 226 different occupations, with the five most reported occupations accounting for 27% of all green jobs in the state. These categories are as follows: there were 4,025 carpenters engaged in green activities; 3,189 green farm-workers; 2,337 truck drivers employed by green related activities; hazardous materials removal workers, which employed 2,123 workers; and 2,044 landscaping workers involved with green job functions.

The construction industry employed the greatest percentage of the state’s green jobs. The wholesale and retail trade, administrative and waste services, natural resources and mining, professional and technical services, and state and local government industries each employed 10% or more of the state’s total green jobs. All other industries combined employed roughly 20% of the green jobs.

Natural resources and mining was the sector of the economy that had the highest percentage, at around 11%, of its workforce employed in green jobs. Other industries with a relatively large percentage of their workforce in green jobs were construction, utilities, administrative and waste services, and professional and technical services.

Construction and extraction occupations accounted for 20% of all green jobs recorded, which represented the greatest concentration of any occupational group. Production; farming, fishing, and forestry; and transportation and material moving occupations each employed at least 10% of all green jobs. Together these four “blue collar” occupational groups account for more than half of Oregon’s green jobs, a statistic that has significant implications for the education requirements of green jobs.

Additional General Green Jobs Metrics for Oregon

Oregon is in the second place after California in Clean Edge’s second annual U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index, which 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, based on analysis and ranking of how all 50 states, and the individuals, businesses, and organizations that operate there, compare across the clean-energy spectrum.

The Clean Edge, Inc., Clean-Tech Job Activity report for 2010 found that the greater Portland metro area ranked in fourteenth place across the nation for cleantech job activity. The Portland metro area includes: Portland, Vancouver (WA) and Hillsboro.

According to employers, Oregon’s green jobs are much more likely to be found at companies in the natural resources industry (where 1 in 10 jobs are green) than the manufacturing industry (where 1 in 50 jobs are green). In fact, manufacturing companies only accounted for 8% of the green jobs identified in the statewide survey. Employment growth in industries such as natural resources, construction, and utilities may be a better bellwether for green jobs growth than new manufacturing facilities.

The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Oregon reported 1,613 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 19,340 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Oregon cleantech sector grew rapidly by 50.7% compared with a much lower 7.5% growth in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Oregon saw around $70 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.

Renewable Energy Jobs in Oregon

Oregon has significant renewable energy resources. Solar, wind, geothermal, small hydroelectricity projects, biomass (wood and organic solid waste), and wave energy, along with alternative fuels can provide Oregon with energy independence, green jobs, rural community development and cleaner air.

Many Oregon residents and businesses invest in renewable resources. Since 1978, ODOE’s incentive programs have led to the residential installation of nearly 1,700 solar electric (photovoltaic) arrays, about 2,500 geothermal heat pumps and more than 19,000 solar water heating systems.

The three year average electricity mix for Oregon has hydropower providing 44% on average followed by in state and out of state coal at 37%. Non-hydro renewables (mostly wind) provided 2%, natural gas 15% and nuclear 4%.

The U.S. hydropower industry currently employs up to 300,000 workers, from project development to manufacturing to facilities operations and maintenance. Under the current weak renewable energy standard already in place, jobs will increase to 480,000 by 2025 with many of these jobs being in the big western hydro states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California.

Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates that large utilities procure 25% of their electricity from qualifying renewable energy sources by 2025 (this includes a limited number of hydropower facilities that were operational before 1995 and less than 11 MW of municipal solid waste each year). Smaller utilities are required to meet reduced targets (5% or 10% renewable energy by 2025), depending on their size. Investor owned utilities (IOUs) must together develop 20 MW of solar PV by 2020. These RPS mandates are sure to drive growth in renewable energy in the state for some time.

In 2009 Oregon had 55 renewable energy companies and 6,366 people were directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy.

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Wind Energy Jobs in Oregon

Oregon is an important wind state with a cumulative installed capacity that as of over 2GW (2,104 MW). Oregon is ranked in fifth place in the nation for installed wind capacity, and has installed the most new capacity in the nation in Q3 2010. The largest wind farm in the nation is under development in eastern Oregon: the 845 MW Caithness Shepherds project.

At least 7 facilities in Oregon currently manufacture components for the wind energy industry and 2 more are announced.

In 2010 the total direct and indirect wind jobs in Oregon were estimated to be between 2,000-3,000.

At present, ODOE is reviewing applications for an additional: 1,050 megawatts (MW) of wind generation known as Baseline and Rock Creek, in Gilliam County; 500+ MW of Saddle Butte, in Gilliam and Morrow counties; 200 MW expansion of the Helix Project, in Umatilla County; 300 MW of wind called Antelope Ridge, in Union County; and 200 MW of wind, Summit Ridge, in Wasco County.

Solar Energy Jobs in Oregon

Solar energy is Oregon’s largest renewable energy resource. It has some very good solar energy resources, especially in the eastern and southern portions of the state.

According to a report done by GTM Research, Oregon has seen an influx of solar manufacturers due to the state’s existing cluster of expertise in silicon, a skilled workforce, a well developed network of suppliers, active solar development, and generous subsidies. For these reasons the report predicts that Oregon is likely to become a major solar manufacturing center within the next few years.

By 2010 Oregon had 14.2 MW of cumulative installed solar photovoltaic capacity, a growth in capacity of 400% over two years.

In addition a projected 1,200 residential rooftop installations were completed in 2010 and this momentum looks like it will continue. The primary factor increasing the number of PV systems installed in the state is declining system cost. In 2007, the average residential PV system in Oregon cost $8.04 per DC Watt. In 2010, the average system cost has dropped to $6.70 per DC Watt with many systems being installed for less than $6.00 per DC Watt.

Many solar manufacturing companies have chosen to operate in Oregon because of its cheap and abundant hydroelectric power. Oregon was one of the three states in the country (along with Michigan and Ohio) to manufacture more than 100 MW of solar panels during 2009.

Bioenergy, Biomass and Biofuel Jobs in Oregon

Oregon has large amounts of biomass resources including agricultural residues, forest slash and mill residuals. For decades, Oregon has been using these resources to provide fuel for the generation of electricity, production of heat, and manufacturing of fuels.

Increased biomass utilization can contribute to healthy forests, rural jobs, and renewable energy. Using forest slash for bioenergy production provides an alternative to open burning. Finding value-added uses for agricultural residues can increase farm revenue and help Oregon agricultural producers find new markets for their products.

Bioenergy production not only creates jobs in the facilities used to produce renewable energy or fuel, it supports jobs in the production and collection of biomass, as well as in other areas of the supply chain. Biomass as a renewable fuel feedstock requires a workforce that can produce, collect, process, and transport the material.

Oregon is home to a biodiesel facility and a bioethanol facility that together produce 45 million gallons annually. The facilities are powered by cooking oil from local companies and by corn, respectively. In addition the state has 8 biomass plants.A typical 30 MW biopower plant employs about 120 workers (in plant and outside).

Currently, more than 45 industrial facilities use woody biomass for energy production. These include electricity and heat produced at forest products industries such as lumber and paper mills. The energy is used to generate electricity, provide heat for drying kilns, or generate steam used for industrial process applications.

In 2010 Oregon had 64 MW of installed biomass energy capacity in 2010; produced 148 mGy of bioethanol; and 5mGy of biodiesel.

Wave Energy Jobs in Oregon

The first U.S. commercial wave power farm is being constructed off Oregon’s coast near Reedsport. It will represent the first phase of a wave power station that will have a generating capacity of 1.5 MW.

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), which is developing Reedsport project is proposing to develop a utility scale, commercial wave park in North America at Coos Bay, Oregon. The planned size of this park is up to 100 MW and it will be the largest wave energy project in the world if it is completed. The wave park will be located approximately 2.7 miles off the coast of Oregon, west of the towns of Coos Bay and North Bend.

In addition another large wave energy project is being studied in Port Garibaldi as part of the jetty rebuilding project.

Geothermal Energy Jobs in Oregon

Geothermal energy is used in Oregon to dry agricultural products, for aquaculture (raising fish), for space heating, to heat greenhouses, and to heat swimming pools at a number of spas and resorts.

Oregon has been involved in the direct use of geothermal energy for years, but there is currently no commercial electricity production from geothermal. However, funding awards from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) Program may help change that.

Geothermal experts consider the area on the flanks of Newberry Volcano, outside the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, to be one of the best prospects for high-temperature geothermal electricity production in the Pacific Northwest. To date, limited exploration drilling has measured temperatures up to 315 degrees Celsius (600 degrees Fahrenheit). Geothermal work in the Newberry area near Bend is being conducted by AltaRock Energy and Davenport Newberry on what is called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).

Geothermal in the City of Klamath Falls has been used since the turn of the century for a variety of uses including heating homes, schools, businesses, swimming pools, and for sidewalk snow melt systems.

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Jobs in Oregon

This growing body of evidence indicates that investments in energy efficiency hold tremendous job creation potential. With state budgets for energy efficiency in 2009 reported to be almost double the level of spending in 2007, increasing from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion and this trend looking to be expanding, we will see jobs in energy efficiency continue to grow. Oregon ranked #3 up from #4 of the top states in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Oregon should expect to see a continuation of energy efficiency job growth over the next few years.

Portland has recently completed a 500-home energy efficiency pilot and is leading the launch of a state-wide effort to upgrade 6,000 homes over the next three years. The pilot program used $1.1 million of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) formula funds to seed a revolving loan fund for home energy remodels. 381 people were employed for the pilot program.

The majority of green building and development employment is in the professional, scientific, and technical services, and business services sectors. Employment in the green building and development sector outperformed the economy as a whole during the five-year period from the fourth quarter of 2004 to the fourth quarter of 2009. The green building and development sector also outperformed similar industries such as construction.

In Oregon, a number of utilities (investor-owned and consumer-owned), along with the BPA are testing smart grid control technologies through grants offered by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The pilot projects are underway and plan to be completed by 2013.

Clean Transportation Jobs in Oregon

Portland is known as one of the most bike friendly cities in the Unites States and has a well developed bike lane infrastructure, including in the Downtown area. The city is also a leader in light rail mass transit.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in 2009 that Oregon was selected as one of seven test markets for the largest deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) and the associated charging infrastructure in history. ECOtality (formerly eTec of Phoenix), will receive $130 million in federal stimulus funds to study electric vehicle usage in six states and Washington, D.C. The project goal is to install EV charging stations and analyze their use and the behavior of EV drivers to guide widespread adoption throughout the country.

ECOtality is partnering with Nissan North America to deploy approximately 1,000 Nissan electric cars (called the “Leaf”) in Oregon and as many as 2,500 charging stations to be installed at homes and businesses that participate in the program. The grant will focus on the Portland, Eugene, Salem and Corvallis areas with a small number of chargers in Medford. Deployment of EV charging infrastructure installations are expected to begin in winter of 2011.

Return to the Top Level Page in The Green Economy Post U.S. Cleantech Employment Outlook State Directory