Like many other industries in the United States, the cleantech sector took a significant hit in 2020. Not only did the pandemic cause widespread disruption and disarray, but the lingering effects of the Trump administration’s encouragement of fossil fuels threw a wrench in the growth of the cleantech industry.
Even after a decline in jobs and overall production in 2020, clean energy remains the largest job creator across America’s energy sector. Experts have already seen a significant bounce-back in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean energy companies in 2021. And both the changing of the guard in the White House and the reduction in COVID-19 restrictions signal a successful long-term outlook for the cleantech space.
Here are some promising signs of clean tech growth in 2021:
Expansion of employment opportunities
Despite losing nearly 20% of its workforce at the midway point of 2020—compared to a nearly 14% decline in the overall U.S. workforce—clean energy jobs recovered more than half of its lost jobs by the conclusion of the calendar year. According to the 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, job growth within the sector increased about 11% since unemployment numbers peaked in May 2020. Today, cleantech workers now account for 19% of all construction occupations and more than 4% of all manufacturing jobs.
Growing nationwide presence
While larger states like California, Texas, New York, and Florida possess a strong presence of cleantech companies, other areas like Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio all employed more than 100,000 clean energy workers in 2020. Given the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting renewable energy and projects to combat climate change, it is expected that more states will continue moving away from coal, oil, and gas toward more environmentally friendly alternatives. What’s more, President Biden has pledged his support of major investments in electric vehicles and energy efficiency initiatives to boost the production and usage of clean energy sources.
Viable job opportunities
The 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report also claimed that more Americans work within the clean energy sector than are employed as middle or elementary school teachers, bankers, farmers, or real estate agents. In addition, the report states that median hourly wages for cleantech jobs ($23.89) are about 25% higher than the national median wage ($19.14). Cleantech jobs include both technical and non-technical responsibilities at all experience levels, including sales and marketing, engineering, public policy, and project management. As the federal government continues to invest in the clean energy space, these lucrative employment opportunities will entice top talent to put their skills and abilities to good use within the industry.
Looking to the future
While the presence of President Biden bodes well for the cleantech industry, more policies and initiatives can be passed in the months ahead to stimulate growth in the economy and spur investment in renewable energy. Congress can consider extending, expanding, and enhancing the accessibility of federal tax incentives for energy improvements such as solar panels and electric vehicles. Removing manufacturer limits on tax credits for clean vehicles would also place a greater focus on the cleantech industry. In addition, implementing programs to create new training and employment opportunities would further foster growth within the sector. If the Biden administration can help to implement some—or all—of these policies, America will reap the benefits of an abundance of new employment opportunities and a cleaner future of renewable energy.