The renewable energy sector continues to add jobs in the Midwestern states of the United States. In 2018, 28,000 jobs were created, a 4% increase from the prior year, as reported by a recent report released by national advocacy group Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs.
The report states that the Midwest’s renewable energy sector employed more than 737,000 workers in 2018. The report breaks these jobs down into clean energy sectors: energy efficiency, renewable energy generation (including solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and low-impact hydroelectric power), advanced transportation, advanced grid and clean fuels. It goes on further to state that the Midwest’s clean energy sector is projected to expand by an additional 7% in 2019, almost double the United States’ 3.6% clean energy growth rate in 2018.
In 2018, Michigan had the most renewable energy jobs in their state with 126,081 jobs and a 4% growth rate. Illinois came in second at 123,247 jobs and a matched 4% growth rate. The midwestern state with the third most renewable energy jobs was Ohio, with 112,500 jobs jobs and a 4.6% growth rate.
Michigan’s current law calls for utilities to increase renewable energy production to 15% by 2021, over their current 10%. Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, signed in 2016, will require 25% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. In Ohio, cities like Cleveland have started to pledge to convert to 100% renewable energy.
According to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association, wind power represents more than 80 percent of the new electricity generating capacity built in the Midwest and Great Plains states. As reported by the Solar Energy Industries Association: In Michigan, there is 152.25MW of solar energy capacity installed, or enough to power 25,196 homes. In Illinois there are 108.47MW of solar energy installed or enough to power 16,727 homes. In Ohio, there is 201.82MW installed, or enough to power 24,679 homes.
The renewable energy sector, in the Midwest, United States, and globally, continues to grow year over year as the price for renewable energy sources continues to fall. This increase in affordability, accessibility, and investment comes in time for the calls for the global energy system at large to convert to renewable energy sources. These growth rates could be considered to be too slow to shift our energy system in time to advert a climate crisis, but they can also be seen as the beginnings of exponential progress in a market that is slow to shift. Either way, this is good news, and the Midwest should double down on these efforts.