The clean economy isn’t just a way to improve the environment and help governments and businesses meet climate goals — it’s also a way to add new jobs. This bonus is why many states are lining up to take advantage of programs to build more clean energy infrastructure. The potential payoff is considerable, with billions of dollars in public and private investment available for clean energy projects.
For proof, look no further than Tennessee. As previously reported by The Business Download, Tennessee secured $7 billion in clean energy technology investments during a 12-month period ending in August 2023, and those investments are expected to create more than 5,600 jobs.
Photo Courtesy E2
Investments in renewables have been pouring in at such a rapid rate in Tennessee that it now ranks as the top state in the country in clean energy job growth, according to a report from E2, a non-partisan group of business leaders and others who advocate for policies that can boost the economy and the environment.
The report “Clean Jobs America 2023” provides an analysis of U.S. employment data from sources such as the BW Research Partnership and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is used to identify energy-related employment within key subsectors of various industries.
The report looked at data across a wide range of clean power sectors, including:
- Renewable energy
- Clean vehicles
- Clean energy storage
- Smart grids, microgrids, and grid modernization
- Advanced biofuels
- Energy efficiency
It also analyzed several industries, including agriculture, utilities, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, professional services, and other services.
Among its findings: In 2022, clean energy and vehicle jobs in the United States grew 4% from the previous year.
The total number of these workers climbed above 3.3 million during the year, representing more than 40% of all energy workers in America.
Tennessee ranked first among the states with 6.5% growth in clean energy jobs in 2022 — well above the national average of 4%. The Volunteer State added 5,046 net of these positions during the year. Its neighbor to the north, Kentucky, ranked second, with a growth rate of 6.2%.
Photo Courtesy E2
Tennessee ranked No. 13 in the total number of clean energy jobs at the end of 2022, with 82,146. Of those, more than half — 50,017 — were in the energy efficiency sector. Tennessee is also a leader in clean vehicle jobs, with 16,367 at the end of 2022, ranking it sixth in the country behind only California, Michigan, Texas, Ohio, and Indiana.
“Tennessee believes in clean, affordable, and readily abundant forms of energy for all,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in a 2022 proclamation.
According to an E2 press release, about 127,000 jobs were added across all U.S. sectors in 2022.
That total made up more than 3% of all U.S. jobs added in 2022. Over the past two years, clean energy jobs have grown by more than 10% — a faster rate than the overall energy industry and U.S. employment.
Photo Courtesy E2/John Deere
This trend is expected to continue as the green energy sector begins to feel the full impact of “historic investments passed in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),” E2 noted. Clean energy and vehicle companies announced 210 significant projects across 38 states during the year after the IRA was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022.
Energy efficiency is the nation’s biggest employer across the energy sector, with more than 2 million jobs, WPLN reported. Industries in the sector include construction, manufacturing, and installing energy-efficient appliances, lighting, building materials, and heat pumps.