Renewable Energy Could Mean Jobs and Investment for Florida…
…but this potential remains untapped.
- Solar Power. Thanks to Florida’s sunny days and our low latitude, our state ranks just behind the desert Southwest for the greatest solar power potential. In fact, a study by the Florida Solar Energy Center showed that rooftop systems in the Sunshine State enjoy the highest solar photovoltaic (PV) power potential in the US 7.2 kilowatt-hours per day, close to the maximum capacity of current PV technology. Rooftop systems in Pennsylvania, a state considered a solar leader, produce only 6.6 kWh per day.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if Florida installed 1,500MW of solar generating capacity, the state would create up to 45,000 direct jobs in the industry. That’s on top of the 50,000 indirect jobs that would be generated as a result of construction and installation.
According to a Washington Economics Group study, over 40,000 direct or indirect jobs could be created for Floridians if renewable energy legislation is implemented. Half of the jobs created will be in manufacturing, construction and knowledge-based services like research.
- Smart Grid. The Federal Government announced a $3.4 billion federal smart grid investment that will leverage more than $4.7 billion in private dollars to create thousands of jobs. In Florida, this includes opportunities for smart meter manufacturing workers; engineering technicians, electricians and equipment installers; IT system designers and cyber security specialists; data entry clerks and database administrators; business and power system analysts; and others.
In January, 2009, the GridWise Alliance reported that up to 280,000 new jobs across the country could be created by 2012 from the deployment of smart grid technology.
- Energy Efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, Florida could see a net savings of $5.1 billion and a resultant 14,264 jobs by reducing electricity demand by 29 percent below what is projected for 2023.
The Department of Energy has identified 4,481 ways for small- and medium-sized industrial plants in Florida to save money through efficiency, with an average payback of only 1.4 years. Only 41 percent of these opportunities have been implemented.
- Biomass Power. Florida has 93.5 million dry tons of biomass available each year that could be used to generate about 1,900 MW of electricity.
- Wind Power. Although Florida has invested little to harness the wind, the state can still benefit from this growing industry.
In terms of manufacturing, if 50,000 MW of new wind energy is created in the U.S. (a $1.12 billion investment), 3,371 Floridian jobs could be created from wind turbines manufacturing, says the NWF.
Dozens of states have created policies and made big investments in renewable energy technologies and are reaping the benefits…
…billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs:
- TEXAS. Texas once again installed the largest amount of new capacity in 2008 2,671 MW moving it into a league of its own. More new wind capacity was added in Texas during last year than anywhere else except China and the rest of the U.S. combined, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Texas has targeted solar energy as their next opportunity and is aggressively pursuing its expansion.
- NEW JERSEY. The state’s “Clean Energy Program” offers financial incentives, programs and services to New Jersey residents and business owners, which has generated more than 25,300 New Jersey jobs in the clean energy economy, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Venture capitalists are investing more than $282 million in New Jersey's clean energy businesses.
- PENNSYLVANIA. Despite coal mining roots, Pennsylvania is making serious strides in clean energy, particularly solar. In 2009, lawmakers announced a $180 million initiative to encourage solar installations on an estimated 14,000 rooftops statewide and in large-scale solar arrays. Aztec Solar, a Solar PV installation company, is developing a solar manufacturing facility in the state, creating 50 to 100 new jobs.
Across the world, countries are pouring $500 billion into clean technologies over the next five years as they compete to lead the clean energy race:
- CHINA. In 2009, China dedicated $440 billion to clean energy stimulus funding, clearing the way for up to 10 GW of solar power to be installed by 2020. China currently boasts one-third of global solar manufacturing capacity, has 400 solar companies, and reduced global solar prices by 30%, forcing companies like U.S. Evergreen Solar Inc. to move their assembly lines from U.S. locations to China.
- GERMANY. Germany is currently the world leader in solar power, responsible for nearly 50 percent of the world’s installed solar-energy capacity and with annual industry growth expected to hit 25 percent in coming years. Germany has attracted investment from North American companies First Solar, Nanosolar, Signet Solar and Arise, who have opened up German production facilities over the last two years. According to a 2008 New York Times article, the boom in Germany’s solar industry has created 40,000 jobs and industry revenues surpassed $8 billion (U.S. currency) in 2007.
- SPAIN. Spain is currently #2 in the world in solar power production and #3 in wind. Iberdrola Renovables, a Spanish company, is the world's largest renewable energy firm. Spain also boasts the world’s largest concentrated solar PV array at 20MW. The Spanish company responsible, Abengoa Solar, has an agreement with Arizona to build a similar 280MW facility 70 miles southwest of Phoenix.
Florida Needs to Act…
…or we’ll lose the opportunity to build a homegrown renewable energy industry and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Major companies are ready to invest in renewable energy research and development, manufacturing and construction in Florida. Millions of jobs, billions of dollars in investment and tax revenue, and a new economic engine for the State are on the line.
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