Clean Energy Sector Explodes – Grand Rapids Business Journal



More than 113,400 Michiganders were working in alternative energy at the end of 2020, according to a study published by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Clean Energy Trust.

The report comes as the US Congress and the Biden administration consider legislation to boost federal investment in clean energy and clean vehicles, and as the state continues to implement Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive action on the climate.

“This industry is poised for growth like we’ve never seen before,” said Micaela Preskill, Midwestern advocate for E2. “The economy is in our favor. Clean energy is now the cheapest energy in most parts of the world, and we are seeing record investments in clean energy companies.

Preskill added that in order for the industry to reach its full potential and mitigate the effects of climate change, it is incumbent on lawmakers to adopt the right policies. According to the analysis, policies that move Michigan closer to its goal of decarbonization by 2050 would help create tens of thousands of new jobs for decades as Michigan overtakes the immediate recovery.

“We have a model in the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan and a step in the right direction with the Senate passing the infrastructure bill. Creating jobs and helping our economy and environment shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and Midwestern congressmen on both sides of the aisle will be key to implementing the Build Back Better plan.

Like most other sectors of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn in 2020. According to this year’s Clean Jobs Midwest report, 2020 was the first decline in the economy. year on year since E2 and Clean Energy Trust. started tracking clean energy jobs in Michigan in 2016.

At one point, more than 31,000 Michigan clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the industry fell 20.4% in the second half of the year to recoup about two-thirds of the jobs initially lost. Final employment figures for 2020 represent a 9.5% drop in Michigan’s clean energy workforce from 2019, or 11,900 jobs.

Last year’s job losses represented a dramatic change of pace for the industry. In the three years to 2020, for example, clean energy jobs grew almost three times faster than overall employment statewide.

Energy efficiency jobs saw the biggest decline, according to the analysis, with Michigan’s largest clean energy employer now employing 74,242. The industry shed 11,081 jobs, down about 13% during the year, workers were barred from entering homes and offices due to pandemic lockdowns.

Other clean energy sectors also saw significant declines in 2020, including renewables (5.9%), grid and storage (8.1%) and clean fuels (4.1%) .

“There is good news,” said Ian Adams, Managing Director of the Clean Energy Trust. “The industry is rebounding and has grown faster than the economy as a whole during the second half of the year. Some other bright spots: Wind power, these jobs grew 4% last year, despite the economic downturn, and now employ nearly 40,000 people in the Midwest, and advanced transportation jobs have increased across the board. states in the region, thanks to the growth of hybrids and electric vehicles. “

Michigan’s clean energy jobs have rebounded faster than the state’s overall workforce, according to the analysis. Michigan can take advantage of the sector’s high job growth potential by adopting policies that support renewables, fuel efficiency and electric vehicles, the report says.

The electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle industries now employ around 24,268 Michiganders as a growing number of automakers have announced changes to produce 100% zero-emission vehicles.

Renewable energies now employ 10,767 Michiganders, including 4,967 in wind power and 4,555 in solar.

Additionally, grid and storage employ 3,579 Michiganders, and clean fuels employ 600. Small businesses are the engine of Michigan’s clean energy sector – in 2020, 77.9% of clean energy companies of Michigan employed fewer than 20 people, according to the report. Clean Energy employed workers in all 83 counties and 14 congressional districts of Michigan.

“Energy is an economic engine in my district, with clean energy jobs supporting thousands of families,” said Aric Nesbitt, interim president of the Michigan Senate for the 26th district. “These jobs were growing three times faster than the overall economy leading to the pandemic and have recovered faster. Long-term, sustainable jobs that cannot be outsourced will create a strong future for Michigan and our communities.

Nationally, clean energy employment ended 2020 down by about 307,000 jobs from the peak of nearly 3.4 million in 2019, recovering about 300,000 jobs nationwide from June to December – a rate faster than job growth nationwide during this period.


The analysis is based on preliminary employment data collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership for the 2021 US Energy and Employment Report (USEER).

USEER analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Employment and Wage Census to track employment in many subsectors of energy production, transmission, and distribution. In addition, USEER 2021 is based on a unique additional survey of 35,000 business representatives across the United States.


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