The U.S. Conference of Mayors has just released a Green Jobs report establishing a national Green Jobs Index that finds
[T]he U.S. economy currently generates more than 750,000 green jobs–a number that is projected to grow five-fold to more than 4.2 million jobs over the next three decades. The report … is the first calculation of its kind to measure how many direct and indirect jobs are in the new and emerging U.S. green economy.
The report notes “It could be the fastest growing segment of the United States economy over the next several decades and dramatically increase its share of total employment.”
In making its forecast, the report assumes growth in alternative energy that I think are both conservative and incomplete:
- By 2038, 40% of the electricity generated in the U.S. will come from alternative resources (an estimated: 30% from wind; 20% from solar; 10% from incremental hydropower; 10% from geothermal; and 30% from biomass);
- Residential and commercial retrofitting will occur at a level that results in a 35% reduction in electricity use in existing buildings over the next three decades; and
- By 2038, 30% of gasoline and diesel demand for passenger cars and light trucks will be satisfied by alternative fuels.
If only 40% of US electricity is generated from renewable resources, you can kiss a livable climate goodbye. The electricity sector is the easiest place to find cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. By 2038, the entire electric grid should be composed of low carbon sources (plus natural gas).
Even with aggressive energy efficiency, total demand will almost certainly be higher because plug-in hybrids will be the dominant alternative fuel vehicle by then. Nuclear power will be lucky to maintain its market share, given its high cost and coal with CCS has a long way to go before it is a practical and affordable solution. In any case, I’d expect 80% or more of US electricity in 2038 to come from alternative resources, mostly wind, solar PV, and baselod solar.
It is possible that 30% of gasoline and diesel demand will be satisfied by alternative fuels in 2038, assuming very significant advances in cellulosic biofuels. But it is a near certainty that an even higher fraction of current gasoline and diesel demand will be satisfied by electricity — plug in hybrids or pure electrics, which I have little doubt generate more jobs than biofuels, since it also involves a major retooling of the vehicle.
Bottom Line: It’s great the US Conference of Mayors has begun this index, the next iteration should have more than one clean energy scenario, and if we’re smart — always a big if — we should have more than twice as many green jobs by 2038. Indeed, as an AP article on the report notes:
Democratic nominee Barack Obama predicts investments in a “clean energy economy” over the next 10 years “will help the private sector create 5 million new green jobs” — a more ambitious projection than outlined by the study provided the mayors.