There’s an international focus on growing renewable energy and cutting back on emissions. With government funding and private sector investment, the green energy is quickly growing to satisfy global requirements—and so are the job opportunities. Regardless of whether you’re a new grad or a seasoned veteran of the workforce, employers are looking to hire tech talent to innovate the clean energy sector. Start your search in these three states for you best chance at landing a green job.
While the Lone Star State is most commonly associated with its oil and natural gas retargets, Texas is actually a leading player in the renewable energy industry. The state produces twice the wind power as any other state and is predicted to see big growth in the solar energy sector. In fact, in the last year, Texas has seen a 28 percent increase in solar jobs, according to The Solar Foundation. Now the state has more than 4,100 people working in the solar industry.
A number of private companies and public utilities have announced plans to build large solar energy systems in Texas. First Solar, for example, is currently constructing a 22 megawatt (MW) solar facility that will sell renewable power in the state’s competitive energy market. And CPS Energy recently announced a contract to construct 400 MW worth of solar energy by 2017—enough to power 10 percent of homes in San Antonio. Plans like these are sure to bring more technology-centered and construction jobs to the state.
It should come as no surprise that California is a great place to go for a green tech job. The state is not only known for Silicon Valley, the Mecca of tech workplaces, but it’s also long been a leader in clean energy generation. The Bureau of Labor Statics’ last study on green jobs in 2011 found that the state offered more than 360,000 green jobs—significantly more than any other state. From hydrogen-fueled vehicles to a high number of LEED-certified buildings, the state is the perfect place to find a job in the green tech industry.
The best place to start your California job search is in the San Francisco area. The city, which already has more than 42,000 green-collar jobs, recently passed $100 million worth of bonds for the creation of sustainable jobs.
While solar and wind energy get the most attention when it comes to renewable energy, hydroelectric power is actually the biggest renewable power in the nation. Hydropower represents 7 percent of the United States’ total energy generation, more than twice that of wind energy and leaps and bounds above solar. Most hydroelectric plants were built decades ago, so there are very few construction jobs in the industry. But those with engineering or technology degrees are in high demand to operate the facilities.
Washington State has the most hydroelectric power, contributing 116 million MW of renewable power to the grid, according to the National Hydropower Association. Because the workforce that built the dams is aging, the association predicts that 25 to 50 percent of hydroelectric workers will retire in the next five years. Furthermore, two bills, passed last August, could also help generate more green tech jobs. The bills will expand the existing hydroelectric infrastructure and add up to 60 million MW of renewable energy to the grid.
About the author of this article:
This article was written by Clint Robertson, an energy writer and green business consultant based in Charleston, SC.
Map of U.S. showing distribution of Green Tech patents (2011). via commerce.gov