Virginia has significant biomass and wind resources, and its solar resources are adequate (and certainly a lot better than Germany’s for example). While the state is not a leader in renewable energy development, Virginia has established a voluntary renewable portfolio standard that encourages renewable power production from these resources, and is also planning how to take advantage of the immense potential of its offshore wind resources. Its voluntary renewable portfolio goal is for investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to procure 15% of the power sold in Virginia from eligible renewable energy sources by 2025. Eligible resources include new and existing solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower (excluding pumped storage), ocean, and biomass energy. Of these resources, onshore wind and solar power receive a double credit toward RPS goals, and offshore wind receives triple credit.
The Green Data for a Growing Green Economy Report prepared for the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration concludes that as of 2010 198,700 green jobs existed in Virginia and that by 2012 this number is expected to grow to 219,400 green jobs. The green economy in 2010 provided 3.7% of the state’s Gross Regional Product (GRP). By 2012 this is expected to rise to 4% of the state’s GRP.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Virginia reported 1,446 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 16,907 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Virginia cleantech sector grew by 6.0% compared with a 6.6% growth in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Virginia saw around $71 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
The greater Washington metro area ranked in sixth place for cleantech job activity in 2010 according to the Clean Edge, Inc, survey.
Environmental Jobs in Virginia
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 biggest job gains from this construction activity are Virginia. The Ceres report estimates that 123,014 new environmental remediation and pollution control related jobs will be created in Virginia as a result of these environmental standards.
Green Building and Energy Efficiency Jobs in Virginia
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (which covers the greater Washington metro area) green building policy is encapsulated in three policy frameworks: All new commercial and public buildings to be LEED® Silver or equivalent by 2020. This will help the region achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and hence also energy usage — to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
Green building is becoming a major construction trend in the greater Washington metro region. In fact, since 2007, the number of LEED certified green buildings constructed in the region has grown substantially. Combining this trend with government incentives, policy, and regulations requiring LEED certification, green building practices are quickly becoming common design and construction practices in our region. This is borne out by examining the acceleration of LEED registered building projects that further suggests more LEED certified green buildings are in the pipeline.
Between 2003 and 2009, there were 59 LEED-certified projects in Virginia, placing it among the most active areas for green building in the country. Through 2009, 171 projects totaling 22.9 million square feet achieved LEED certification in the National Capital Region, of which Northern Virginia is a part. 6.6 million square of feet LEED certified projects where added in Virginia during this time./
Biomass and Biofuel Jobs in Virginia
Virginia currently generates 191MW of renewable power form biomass.
The state is home to two biodiesel plants and three in development which will run on high fatty acid feedstocks and vegetable oils. The Virginia Point Biodiesel Plant would be the largest in the world if constructed, estimated to cost nearly $532 million and to produce up to 320 million gallons of biodiesel per year.
Wind Energy Job in Virginia
While the current wind energy jobs tally is pretty modest in the state with direct and indirect wind jobs supported in 2010 totaling between 100-200, Virginia has some excellent wind resources especially its offshore wind resources. In many ways it is in an ideal location for the offshore wind industry, with the premier port facilities on the East Coast, a robust maritime industry and supply chain, superior rail connectivity, and a highly skilled workforce. In addition Virginia has some of the highest quality winds really anywhere on the East Coast are within just a few miles of the Virginia Capes. The state recently passed a bill (Senate bill 577) that establishes a State entity, responsible for facilitating the development of the offshore wind industry in Virginia. The NREL job creation estimates for Virginia offshore wind are that at an estimated build out rate of 160MW per year 6,200 jobs could be sustained for 20 years or more.
Construction on the state’s first utility-scale wind farm is expected to be complete in 2011: the $65 million Allegheny Mountain Wind Farm in Highland County, which will have a nameplate capacity of 39 MW.
Virginia 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 Virginia should see a significant increase in the number of sustainability opportunities. In fact, Virginia is home to 33 Fortune 1000 companies and 118 colleges and universities. It has three research universities.