President Barack Obama has made it clear that he will invest heavily in the renewable and clean-energy sectors to help launch a national economic recovery. According to a study released just before the election, at least one region of the country is ready for the challenge.
A study released in October by Clean Edge, a research and publishing firm devoted to clean technologies, and Climate Solutions, a nonprofit organization based in Olympia, Wash., concluded that five emerging clean-tech industry sectors offer the Pacific Northwest one of the best opportunities for sustained economic vitality and job growth. It also charts the course for private and public investment and leadership to capitalize on the opportunity.
“Carbon-Free Prosperity 2025” provides a comprehensive look at emerging green industries projected to provide high-paying jobs and a vital new economic base for the region. It provides an overview of the region’s potential role in an increasingly competitive global clean-tech industry.
The study focuses on five clean-energy sectors that provide the best opportunities for Oregon and Washington to build a leadership position in intellectual capital and job creation. They include solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, wind power development, green building design services, sustainable bioenergy and smart-grid technologies.
The study found these industries combined have the potential to create more than 63,000 new jobs in the Pacific Northwest by 2025. The figure matches the employment created in the region during its heyday as a chip-manufacturing center.
The report also provides a 10-point action plan for the two states that includes limiting and reducing global warming pollution by putting a price on carbon; dramatically increasing public investment in clean-technology funds; passing new green building codes; deploying work force strategies to develop a clean-energy work force; providing clean-energy tax credits; and building a contemporary, state-of-the-art smart grid.
The study is based on interviews with more than 50 industry, financial and policy experts in the Northwest, and leverages proprietary Clean Edge data on market sizing, employment figures and other key market factors.