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Clean Energy - Jobs of the Future

As problems on the horizon loom large, such as climate change and resource depletion, Michigan is making a strong push for the conversion to clean/renewable energy. Clean energy refers to wind, solar, geothermal, bio and hydro energies. Over the last decade, Michigan has increased their renewable energy from 10% of the total up to 15%, a good step forward. Our legislature is working on setting benchmarks along the way to 100% clean energy by 2050 with the next target being 35% by 2025. This push for clean energy is making a serious impact on the job industry with Clean Energy jobs surging at the tail end of 2020 by over 20% and returning much quicker from the pandemic than many other industries.

A job loss assessment done in May 2020 found that 31,124 clean energy jobs were lost in Michigan over just one month when the world locked down from the Covid-19 virus. This accounted for nearly one fourth of all Michigan’s clean energy jobs. As of now, all jobs are back to over 90% of the pre-pandemic levels and clean energy jobs are above pre-pandemic levels.

The growth in clean energy and clean energy jobs is largely driven by legislation from both state and federal government. In August, President Biden announced a new target of 50% of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030 and has garnered full support from the Big Three automakers. For example, Ford is currently working on a 200,000 square foot vehicle battery lab and plant that is expected to open by the end of 2022 in the Detroit area. Ford has also expanded some of their current facilities for battery and electric motor assembly. The Biden administration has also targeted 2035 to decarbonize the power grid of the US saying “meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet, it’s about providing a better future for all of us.”

The CEO of the American Clean Power Association Heather Zichal says "the biggest hurdle in achieving this will be getting enough people trained and added to the workforce as quickly as possible. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for massive job creation with high demand for diversity of roles in manufacturing, construction, project development, and operations”. In Q4 of 2020 there were more than 415,000 solar, wind, and battery storage jobs across the US. If we want to hit these goals, we are looking at nearly 600,000 additional jobs across just these three major sources of clean energy.

Here in Michigan Governor Whitmer has set a goal to power all state facilities completely by renewable energy by 2025. “Our clean energy target will protect public health and the environment and takes steps to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change over the next decade.” She has also proclaimed September 23-27 as Clean Energy Week to encourage individuals and organizations to support clean energy solutions as well as bring more attention to the industry and the cause.

Climate change is coming fast, and we are doing all that we can to react. Getting the infrastructure and the workforce geared up and ready to go is a group effort that we can see at all levels of government. If you want to learn more about Clean Energy and the rapidly expanding job sector you can check out Clean Grid Alliance a non-profit dedicated to advancing renewable energy in the Midwest Here.


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