New reports indicate that Michigan’s “green collar” sector has grown more than 10,000 jobs in less than a decade and is poised to accelerate that growth in the next few years. That growth is mostly due to the growing market for wind and solar power, Michigan’s high-tech workforce and robust scientific community, and myriad policies and programs implemented by the state.
Nearly 200 renewable energy companies have been established in Michigan.
“Clean tech is the state’s fastest growing sector, with $10 billion in announced clean energy development investments in the pipeline,” noted a report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), a Chicago-based public interest group.
The companies range from automobile manufacturers that are retooling to build clean-energy components to startups developing new energy technologies.
“You go back five to 10 years, and we see only a few jobs in these sectors,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s executive director. “Clearly, the job growth in two sectors can’t make up for thousands of jobs lost in the auto industry. On the other hand, there is clear, positive growth the last several years.”
Programs like the Michigan Renewable Portfolio Standard and wind and solar energy tax reforms can boost job creation even more. Programs like the 2008 Michigan Standard, requiring 10 percent of all electricity in the state be generated by renewable technologies by 2015, have been helpful in the sector’s growth.
“Michigan can be a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse, and smart policies have helped attract new solar and wind business investment here,” Learner said. “From huge steel castings for wind turbines to ultra-thin solar shingles, clean energy equipment is made in Michigan. Old-line manufacturers are retooling to produce the solar and wind equipment for our future.”
Photo courtesy www.sxc.hu