For the first time since the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center began its annual tally in 2010, Massachusetts saw a decline in clean energy jobs in 2020, though MassCEC officials said gains in 2021 show strength. and the underlying potential of the industry.
The clean energy industry ended 2019 with 113,968 workers. But the onset and early months of the pandemic saw the loss of 19,800 jobs, a drop of around 17%, and by mid-2020 the industry workforce here had fallen to around 94,168 workers, MassCEC said in its annual industry report for 2021.
The second half of 2020 saw the return of about 7,000 jobs, leading to a net loss of 12,800 clean energy jobs, or about 11% of the workforce in 2020, MassCEC said. At the end of 2020, 101,208 people worked in the industry in Massachusetts. Last year, that rebound continued, but at a slower pace than statewide job growth. The clean energy sector added about 4,000 jobs in 2021 and ended the year with about 105,180 jobs.
“While a full recovery has been delayed in part due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and supply chain constraints and labor shortages, the state has recorded some modest gains. in wind power, electric vehicles and energy storage,” said MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “Significantly, early data estimates through December 2021 show this recovery continuing, underscoring the resilience of the state’s clean energy industry.”
In the decade between 2010 and 2020, Massachusetts’ clean energy industry created 40,934 jobs, representing 23% of all jobs created in the state during that time.
Clean energy jobs make up about 3% of Massachusetts’ workforce, and the industry accounts for more than $13.7 billion in gross state product, according to the MassCEC report. The largest branches of industry are the energy efficiency, demand side management, and clean heating and cooling sectors, which together account for 72% of jobs. Small businesses (those with 10 or fewer workers) make up 61% of the industry.
An offshore wind facility has replaced the old coal-fired power plant at Brayton Point in Somerset, Mass.
Since its last report, MassCEC said, jobs in electric vehicles and wind jobs have each increased by 8% and jobs in energy storage have increased by 1%. Between 2020 and 2021, the state’s wind industry added about 160 jobs to reach 2,282 workers. The solar industry lost nearly 1,800 jobs over the same period, but still employs more than six times as many people in the Bay State as the wind sector (15,096 solar jobs).
But with the country’s first major offshore wind farm due to be built in the next year and a half, and with at least three other projects in the state queue this decade, MassCEC CEO Daloisio, said the wind industry “is poised for unprecedented growth in the coming years.”
Speaking at an event alongside Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides, Daloisio said Massachusetts offers the highest median clean energy salaries in the country. in December 2020.
The latest report also revealed that the Bay State’s clean energy industry is heavily dependent on small businesses, with more than 60% of businesses employing 10 or fewer workers, Daloisio said.
“In order to meet our ambitious climate goals for 2030, we will need to accelerate the pace at which we decarbonize our buildings, electrify our transport and deploy clean electricity generated by offshore wind,” she said. “We will need to continue to grow and develop a well-trained and skilled clean energy workforce that includes individuals and communities that have historically been underrepresented.”
While the state’s initial forays into offshore wind prioritized clean energy affordability, there has been a shift among some lawmakers and Baker toward a preference for maximizing economic development and benefits for employment that the new growing industry could provide.
When the House passed legislation last month to change the offshore wind procurement process, create new tax credits and incentives for offshore wind companies, and more, Representative Jeff Roy said the project The bill was “carefully calibrated to attract world-class manufacturing facilities” and to invest in “intensive workforce training initiatives”. The president of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Chamber said the legislation aims to build “an industry that minimizes potential impacts on maritime industries and the coastal environment while maximizing the benefits to our communities of environmental justice”.
Last fall, Baker introduced his own bill to reshape how Massachusetts secures offshore wind and to invest $750 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to create an energy investment fund. which, according to his office, would represent “the single largest investment in Massachusetts’ clean energy economy.” nowadays.”
Senate leaders said their branch would tackle a broader climate bill this month and were due to discuss their plan in more detail Thursday afternoon.
Baker, Theoharides and Daloisio toured the MassCEC Wind Technology Test Center on Thursday, where work continues on turbines and other equipment that will be deployed in the booming offshore wind industry.
“Wayne Gretzky once said that you don’t chase the puck where it is, you chase the puck where it goes,” Baker said. “In this particular case, it’s a great example of Massachusetts understanding and appreciating that there was an opportunity to create a very important offshore wind industry along the East Coast and for Massachusetts to play a major role in that. That was more than 10 years ago, and we are here today.”
The governor highlighted his $750 million bill and his proposal to launch a clean energy innovation fund, comparing the opportunities available in the renewable energy sector to the life sciences industry which is now a mainstay of the Massachusetts economy.
“We are now, for all intents and purposes, probably the most important destination location for life science discovery anywhere in the world,” Baker said. “There’s an opportunity for us to play the exact same role in the next generation of energy, and I’d hate to miss it because people can’t quite see all the way into the future.”