Clean Energy Employs 5X More Hoosiers Than Fossil Fuels

Clean Energy Employs 5X More Hoosiers Than Fossil Fuels

If employment figures are any indication of the direction that our state is headed both culturally and economically, then Indiana’s future is likely going to look much cleaner than it does today. Even though Indiana is still one of the top-ranked states for coal dependence and we rank among the top 10 producers of coal, recent data shows that, overall, Indiana now employs five times more workers in clean energy than fossil fuels. And the numbers get a lot bigger from there.

More than all the Waiters and Lawyers Combined

A big shift is happening in terms of industry dominance which, let’s be real, will be one of the true drivers of change for most economies. Today, more than 83,000 Indiana residents now work in clean energy industries. That employment figure is more than all the waiters and waitresses, computer programmers, lawyers, and web developers in Indiana combined.

Every single county in Indiana has employees from the clean energy sector. Among all the different types of employment subcategories within clean energy, the energy efficiency category was the one that provided the most Hoosier jobs with 53,963 workers. That’s more than six in 10 of all clean energy jobs in the state. Clean vehicles came in second with over 14,464 jobs, among which hybrid and electric vehicles made the largest portion (12,929).

That data comes to us from a new analysis developed by multiple sources; refreshingly devoid of red-versus-blue-style arguments. The 2018 Clean Jobs Midwest report, available in a rather comprehensive website, was published by Clean Energy Trust (CET), a Chicago-based early-stage clean energy investment, venture development, and advocacy firm, and E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), a national nonpartisan business group advocating for positive economic and environmental policies. Data in the report also originated from the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s employment statistics.

Current Progress and Projection

Indiana added 1,385 new energy efficiency jobs from 2016 to 2017 (2.6 percent job growth). This outpaced the Midwest overall, which had a growth rate of 1.5 percent.

There are many different types of jobs in the energy efficiency subcategory, several of which you might not expect. For example, this could include factory jobs that manufacture parts for high efficiency products and components, construction jobs that augment the HVAC systems of facilities to be more efficient and save energy, and several others.

For all clean energy jobs in general, experts are projecting a big year for 2019. Employers are expecting to add about 5,000 jobs this year, which would be a 6.1 percent growth rate.

By locality, Marion County, Elkhart County, and Allen County hold the largest clean energy employment totals, while other major standouts understandably include the Indianapolis and Chicago metropolitan areas. Interestingly, Indiana’s rural areas contain just about half the number of jobs (16,000) that the denser metro areas have (33,354). According to the report’s authors, this reflects a trend of clean energy employment growth that spans not only rural and urban development regions, but the scope of the Midwest overall.

“These findings show that clean energy jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency are growing across the region and that the Midwest continues to demonstrate it is a fertile region for clean energy innovation, enabling businesses to launch, grow, and create jobs,” said Erik G. Birkerts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “Everyone should embrace and support these sectors that are driving economic development.”

Micaela Preskill, E2’s Midwest Advocate, said, “With further investment and smart state policy, clean jobs will continue power Indiana’s economy into the next decade.”

Foreseeably Beyond Efficiency

Aside from the existing growth rate and the impressive projections the energy efficiency sector is showing, the report contained additional data as to what other areas of clean energy are experiencing.

  • Renewable energy, led by wind and solar, employs 10,682 Indiana residents
  • Over 3,800 Indiana residents now work in grid modernization and energy storage
  • The majority of Indiana’s clean energy jobs (80.7 percent) are in construction and manufacturing
  • Clean fuels and clean vehicle technologies employ 15,237 workers
  • Small businesses are driving Indiana’s clean energy sectors, with 72.1% of clean energy businesses employing fewer than 20 individuals

Wind and solar employment alone are likely to be experiencing growth over the coming years, as new headlines pertaining to both are seemingly setting records on a regular basis. For example, within the span of just a few weeks late last autumn, two major announcements about wind and solar were released.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency cut the ribbon on the Rensselaer 2 Solar Park, which can produce an annual amount of energy to power over 500 homes, and the organization is building additional parks in three other counties (in addition to at least 16 others it’s built.) Just days later, Colorado-based Scout Clean Energy announced it had secured permits to build the proposed $150 million Bitter Ridge Wind Farm in Jay County, installing up to 59 wind turbines across 12,000 acres.

There’s little doubt that clean energy is big business in Indiana and the data is only indicating an upward trend. Environmental rhetoric and large-scale policy debates aside, we all know that efficiency is profitable for any endeavor. It’s certainly profitable for 83,000 of our citizens, to say the least. Where we go from here will be worth observing as our state marks a major shift toward a cleaner future.


Types of Clean Energy Job Sectors, with Examples

  • Energy efficiency
    • Installation and maintenance, HVAC efficiency, advanced building materials
  • Renewable energy generation
    • Wind, solar, biomass, hydropower
  • Advanced transportation
    • Producing or maintaining alternative fuel vehicles
  • Clean fuels
    • Advanced biofuels and alternative fuel production
  • Advanced grid
    • Energy storage, smart grid technology

Source: Clean Jobs Midwest