New Report Finds Over 110,700 Clean Energy Workers in Massachusetts in 2018

On December 19, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) released its 2018 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, shining a light on the Commonwealth’s large and growing clean energy workforce.

Clean Energy Employment in Massachusetts Grew by 1.4%, Adding 1,500 Workers

The 2018 MassCEC report paints a picture of overall job growth but with total renewable energy employment remaining flat, led by a decrease in the solar power sector.

Some top line findings from the Report include:

  • The clean energy industry employs more than 110,700 workers in Massachusetts.
  • Over 3% of the total state workforce is in clean energy, second highest in the nation.
  • Wind energy workers grew by over 11% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Small businesses with less than 10 employees account for 62% of the clean energy sector.
  • The sector grew by more than 15% to $13.2 billion, or 2.4% of the Gross State Product.
  • Overall clean energy employment has grown 84% since 2010.
  • The solar workforce declined by almost 1,000 workers, or 5.4%.

72% of Workers are in Energy Efficiency, Demand Management and Clean Heat and Cooling

In 2018, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy rated Massachusetts as the nation’s most energy efficient state for the eighth year in a row. The state’s outstanding energy efficiency workers make this accomplishment possible. While the public image of clean energy work is often represented by images of gleaming solar panels and spinning wind turbines, energy efficiency related work actually dominates the Massachusetts clean energy workforce, employing 79,384 workers, or 72% of the state total. Total energy efficiency related employment in the Commonwealth grew by just under 2% in 2018.

Renewable Energy Employment was Flat in 2018, with an Increase in Wind and a Decline in Solar

Renewable energy employment in Massachusetts essentially held steady in 2018, with firms reporting a total of 28,691 workers, down by 297 jobs from 2017. The state’s renewable energy workforce includes 17,861 in solar power, 1,839 in wind energy, and 8,991 across all other renewable sources.

While wind energy employment in Massachusetts is currently small, enthusiasm about the Commonwealth’s emerging offshore wind sector is very high, with accompanying predictions for strong job growth. In his introductory message for the Report, MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike highlighted the selection of Vineyard Wind to construct “the first large-scale offshore wind project in the U.S”, and said that this “signals the arrival of this industry in East Coast market.” Pike also noted that “Vineyard Wind has signed a lease with to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as the primary deployment location for its project”, and predicted additional job growth for Southeastern Massachusetts.

The small drop in overall renewable energy employment was led by a decrease of nearly 1,000 workers in the solar power sector. According to the MassCEC report, “This decrease is part of a national trend of decline in solar employment. Across the United States, solar employment decreased by 3.8% between 2016-2017.”  

By way of explanation, the Report authors note that: “Further analysis revealed that while overall installed capacity had increased in preceding years, the number of smaller solar installations decreased by nearly half between 2015-2017. This means that an increasing amount of installed capacity is from larger projects. Larger projects require fewer installation hours per unit of capacity than smaller projects. Under these conditions… demand for employees declined while installed capacity increased.”

In spite of the drop in solar employment, the Report finds that “Massachusetts remains the state with the second most solar employees”.

Read the Report

The 2018 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report is an excellent overview of the industry’s progress in the Commonwealth. In addition to the top line employment numbers, the report examines the industry’s employment demographics, regional employment breakdowns and hiring difficulties. It also contains valuable analysis of the clean energy investment landscape along all phases of firm development – from research/prototyping to commercialization and growth.

Congratulations to the MassCEC staff, and to the researchers at BW Research Partnership, on another good annual snapshot of the clean energy industry in Massachusetts.

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Kevin Doyle

Kevin is Principal of Green Economy.