Green technology not only helps to sustain the environment, but it also helps to sustain the US economy by providing new jobs. A Brookings Institution report estimates that between 2008 and 2011, the number of green jobs in the US grew 260 percent from 750,000 to 2.7 million. Much of this job creation stems from the increased awareness of, and demand for, green technology by the consuming public.
Manufacturing New Jobs
With an increased focus on job creation during this election year, one particular sector has seen ongoing growth: manufacturing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April 2012 Employment Situation Summary, the manufacturing industry added 489,000 jobs in the US since January 2010. With the high demand for green technology and sustainable energy solutions comes the growth of jobs in the cleantech manufacturing industry. The Brookings Institution also reports more jobs in the green technology and renewable energy industries than in the fossil fuel sector, with 26 percent of cleantech jobs being in manufacturing.
An increase in job creation will directly impact the domestic economy and job market—so long as we make manufacturing advancements in the US and create and sustain the jobs. Developing and manufacturing energy storage technology domestically results in national profit from cost savings, environmental benefits, increased job availability and national competitive advantage.
With the development and improvement of energy storage technology such as ultracapacitors, the prices of these systems will drop, leading to mass adoption of applications that use them, such as electric vehicles. As a result, consumers will experience significant fuel cost savings, and harmful emissions will be less likely to enter the atmosphere. The continued demand for better energy storage options results in more jobs created in the ultracapacitor manufacturing industry. Companies in the space will expand their product lines, resulting in more hiring across their businesses, from manufacturing to sales to administration.
Small Businesses Equals Big Job Opportunities
According to a recent report by the US Small Business Administration, small businesses outperformed large companies in net job creation by about 75 percent from 1992-2010. This growth coupled with the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit contributes to the United States’ competitive advantage by innovating, creating jobs and stimulating economic recovery. Another study by the US Small Business Administration finds small businesses responsible for much of the green technology innovation. Small businesses hold 14 percent of all US green technology patents. Given the job creation by small businesses coupled with the innovation within the green technology space, it only makes sense that opportunities with small businesses in green technologies will abound.
Made in the USA
In addition to creating new jobs in the clean technology manufacturing space, we’re also witnessing increases in American companies reshoring and bringing jobs back home.
While offshoring was once popular due to the reduced operational costs in overseas markets, reshoring has a growing appeal due to such factors as high fuel prices raising shipping and transport costs. A survey conducted by engineering professor and supply-chain expert, David Simchi-Levi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that 39 percent of U.S. manufacturers were contemplating moving some of their manufacturing operations back to the US. By reshoring various business operations and not just manufacturing jobs, companies not only help the American job market, but also gain better quality control. There is value and pride in having a product labeled as both a green technology and “made in America.” Domestic manufacturing of clean technology improves a company’s image with both internal and external stakeholders, creating pride among employees and a strong reputation with the public and customers. Not only that, but it taps into a sense of patriotism for having impacted the U.S. economy by producing more exports and more domestic jobs.
If the US fails to take the initiative to design and manufacture innovations in renewable energy, we will miss out, and our foreign competitors will reap the benefits. We will move from a dependency on foreign oil to a dependency on foreign energy storage. President Obama echoed this sentiment in his State of the Union address in January, proposing tax incentives for companies bringing their operations back to the U.S. and tax penalties for those who do not. He declared, “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.”
The End Goal
Cleantech manufacturing provides the necessary support to increase the nation’s renewable energy output. Cost-efficiency, savings and a greater number of jobs are great perks resulting from the growth of the cleantech industry, but the main goal of clean technology remains the widespread adoption of renewable energy applications for a cleaner, more sustainable environment.
Chad Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a founder and vice president of sales at Ioxus, Inc., focusing on European sales. Previously, he spent 14 years with Custom Electronics, Inc. (CEI). His extensive mechanical engineering and business experience helped establish Ioxus from funding to factory to launch.