Every Day, Advanced Energy Equals Good American Jobs

Posted by Harry Godfrey on Sep 6, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Jobs Week Blog

It’s Labor Day! It’s a day not only for backyard BBQs and final dips in the pool, but also, and more importantly, a day to recognize the hard-working yet under-appreciated folks who built America, and keep it humming. For us at AEE, it’s also a day to provide some new resources for growing jobs in the advanced energy industry. AEE is proud to recognize the 3.2 million Americans employed in the advanced energy industry today. From solar installers and wind turbine mechanics to line workers and HVAC technicians, these men and women literally keep the lights on, powering our homes and offices with clean, reliable, affordable advanced energy. All told, advanced energy employs more people in America today than the food and beverage sector, and almost a million more than commercial banks.

Like many parts of the American economy, the advanced energy industry took a hit during the COVID pandemic. But we are coming back strong. By the end of this year, advanced energy employers expect to see 8% job growth, outpacing the national recovery. Simply put, advanced energy is hiring!

To facilitate that, our new Members Page is also a Career Portal that provides connections to hundreds of open positions at AEE’s member companies. Just click on a company logo to see the opportunities available to join the advanced energy industry. 

As an industry, advanced energy is committed to helping America build back better. Central to that is a commitment to help bolster and rebuild U.S. manufacturing. Domestic manufacturing, from cars and trucks to airplanes and heavy appliances, helped make America an economic superpower in the 20th century. These industries helped to build a prosperous middle class in the process.

In the 21st century, domestic advanced energy manufacturing – the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure, renewable energy generation, energy efficient appliances, and next-generation battery storage – can reinforce America’s economic leadership. Moreover, per our analysis, advanced energy can help to rebuild the U.S. middle class, creating upwards of 1 million good-paying jobs this decade alone!

Working with Guidehouse Insights, a leading economic consulting firm, AEE set out to better understand the state of advanced energy manufacturing in the U.S. today, and how it could grow in the years ahead. This analysis examined a subset of advanced energy technologies: distributed solar, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), smart grid communications, EVs, DC chargers, building controls, hot water heaters, and electric heat pumps. These products were selected in part to complement research by Princeton University scholars on large-scale wind and solar generation (more on that below). 

We asked two broad questions: First, what is the state of final assembly for these technologies in the U.S. versus abroad today? And second, how might domestic manufacturing for these technologies grow, particularly with policies akin those currently being debated in Congress? The answers are encouraging.

Of the eight technologies we examined, six saw the majority of final assembly serving domestic demand occur in the U.S. Put another way, whether we are talking about heat pumps in our homes, EVs on our roads, or AMI on our grid, a majority of the finished products we buy are made in America. That’s good news. We already have a toe-hold in advanced energy manufacturing – and that toe-hold has served to create almost 290,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs today.

By the middle of this decade, under business-as-usual forecasts, those job numbers are expected to more than double, to 568,000, which is impressive enough. But there’s a great deal that policymakers can do to grow these important middle-class jobs even more. According to our analysis, a Clean Energy Standard, similar to what’s being debated in Congress, which would accelerate the deployment of renewable and energy efficient technologies, would create an additional 290,000 jobs.

Furthermore, policies like those proposed in the American Jobs Plan – extensions of advanced energy tax credits, investments in building retrofits, and support for transportation electrification, to name a few – would create another 361,000 jobs. And if we helped spur more domestic manufacturing in the two technologies – DG solar and smart grid communications – where currently the majority of final assembly occurs abroad, we’d create yet another 56,000 jobs. Put it all together, and by 2025 jobs associated with U.S. advanced energy manufacturing (of just these eight technologies) could total almost 1.3 million – more than a four-fold increase!

These jobs numbers complement recent analysis from Erin Mayfield and Jesse Jenkins at Princeton University. Mayfield and Jenkins looked at the employment effects of increasing domestic content and high-road labor standards in the utility-scale wind and solar sectors. They found, with relatively marginal additional cost, a 10% increase in domestic content in large-scale wind and solar projects would support approximately 45,000 new jobs in U.S. advanced energy manufacturing in the 2020s and 83,000 in the 2030s. Grow that domestic-content percentage to 20%, and we are talking about 90,000 additional jobs in the current decade, and 166,000 jobs in the next. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

Advanced energy technologies – from the latest EVs and changing stations, to solar arrays and wind farms, to the heat pumps and water heaters in our homes – are poised to improve our lives by providing clean, reliable, and affordable power and transportation. But, through smart policies, they can provide something more: a foundation on which to rebuild American manufacturing. In the process, they will create hundreds of thousands of new, middle-class jobs right here in the U.S.

On Labor Day, that’s something to celebrate!

AEE has put together a #JobsWeek toolkit featuring expertise and insight aimed at ensuring advanced energy recaptures America’s manufacturing glory for U.S. workers — while boosting domestic manufacturing, creating good jobs, and expanding business opportunities for advanced energy companies. Discover exclusive new AEE research, uncover manufacturing and jobs data, and learn how your business can tap emerging market opportunities as the global economy transitions to clean, reliable, affordable energy resources.

Download #JobsWeek Toolkit

Topics: Advanced Energy Employment, Manufacturing and Infrastructure