The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Wisconsin reported 1,294 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 15,089 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Wisconsin cleantech sector shrunk by 5.2% compared with a 3.4% growth in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Wisconsin saw around $47 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
It remains to be seen what affect the new Republican administration’s policies will have on future growth of green economy jobs in the state. For example, in May (2011), the Joint Finance Committee (Of the Wisconsin Legislature) voted to cut funding for Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program.
Renewable Energy Jobs in Wisconsin
In 2009 there were 67 renewable energy companies in Wisconsin, and 1,400 people were either directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy.
Wisconsin is the fifth ranked state for solar jobs in the country. There are 6,000 estimated solar jobs in 89 estimated solar firms operating in the state.
Wisconsin provides an attractive location for solar and wind manufacturing facilities, due to its proximity to clean energy supply chains and its favorable incentives for manufacturers. A $15 million wind and solar manufacturing facility is being constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that will employ 275 people. At full capacity, the site will produce up to 7,500 MW annually.
Spanish wind-turbine generator company Ingeteam will employ about 270 workers at a new plant announced last year outside Milwaukee.
Wisconsin’s high corn production makes it one of the nation’s leading producers of ethanol, and developers are steadily developing its wind resource to meet state mandates. Wisconsin has one operating biodiesel plant and ten operating ethanol plants, and is ranked ninth in the U.S. in ethanol capacity. The Office of Energy Independence is also exploring the production of biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks, such as corn stover, grasses, and wood waste.
Ten biomass facilities are located in Wisconsin, which produce electricity through landfill gas power, gasification, anaerobic digestion, and incineration. They use municipal solid waste, forestry residue, manure, organic waste and other feedstocks for power.
Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin should see a significant increase in the number of sustainability opportunities. In fact, Wisconsin is home to 27 Fortune 1000 companies and 92 colleges and universities. It has two research universities.
Other Green Jobs in Wisconsin
Spain-based Talgo plans to hire 125 employees to build high-speed rail cars at a former auto parts factory in North Milwaukee.