Clean energy jobs--jobs that relate to solar, wind and other emerging technologies--grew nearly two and a half times faster than any other type of job during the period between 1998 and 2007, according to a recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses throughout all 50 states accounted for 770,000 environmentally-sustainable jobs. The study was an effort to access America's jobs in the nascent clean energy economy.
"The most active businesses continue to be small businesses," points out Lori Grange, the interim deputy director of the Pew Center. Grange says that small businesses made up almost 99 percent of all the businesses tracked and that those businesses accounted for more then 75 percent of all clean energy jobs.
According to the data, which Pew amassed through the Social Science Research National Establishment Time, a proprietary database, every state has a piece of this sector with a growing number of both jobs and businesses. The Senate is currently considering the federal renewable electricity standard, a measure that would require utilities to use renewable energy to supply at least 15 percent of their electricity sales by 2015.
"You've got small businesses and venture capitalists saying, 'Hey, this is a market opportunity; let's jump in and provide those services," says Grange. If the bill passes, that means an automatic market demand with room for economic growth.
"It's the kind of innovation we need to have to make this new energy economy and not very much of it is going to come from large companies," says David Prend, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Venture Capital Association and Managing General Partner for RockPort Capital Partners, a venture-capital firm that partners with clean technology entrepreneurs. "And I actually think it's critical."