The U.S. could miss out on 100,000 clean energy manufacturing jobs by 2015 and 250,000 by 2030 if current industry trends continue, according to a new report by the Apollo Alliance and Good Jobs First. The report, Winning the Race: How America Can Lead the Global Clean Energy Economy, estimates that 70 percent of the nation’s renewable energy systems and components are currently being manufactured abroad.
“We are quickly losing the chance to be a leader in what will be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century: the global clean energy economy,” Apollo Alliance Chairman Phil said in a press release announcing the report’s release. “While other countries are making massive investments in clean energy infrastructure and production-and creating tens of thousands of new jobs as a result-the United States doesn’t even have the capacity to meet its own demand for renewable energy components.”
The new report comes at a time when some lawmakers are growing concerned that foreign owned clean energy manufacturing companies are receiving large sums of federal stimulus money. Senators Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Charles Schumer, and Jon Tester have introduced legislation designed to ensure that federal investments in clean energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go to American owned manufacturing companies.
“It is a no-brainer that stimulus funds should only go to projects that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas,” Senator Schumer said in a press release posted on his website. Our domestic clean-energy sector has the potential to emerge as a global leader and it is counterproductive to invest U.S. stimulus funds in Chinese companies rather than our own. We should not be giving China a head start in this race at our own country’s expense.”
China is currently the winning the race to become the global leader of the growing clean energy manufacturing sector, according to the report. China’s rise to the top has been fueled by an investment in clean energy technology that is estimated to equal $12.6 million every hour. China isn’t alone on this front. Together, Japan and South Korea have invested more than four times as much in clean energy than the U.S.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act represented a $110 billion federal investment in clean energy, providing new funding for advanced batteries, energy efficiency, high-speed rail, renewable energy, and smart grid technology. Those investments may already be paying off. The report cites Obama administration statistics estimating that 826,000 clean energy jobs have already by created by the stimulus package. The Recovery Act is also expected to create 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the clean energy sector.
Even with those new jobs, America’s manufacturing sector is in serious trouble. The study notes that the U.S. economy has lost a total of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs during the past decade, 2 million of those since 2007. If clean energy is going to be the solution to the nation’s manufacturing woes, more work needs to be done.
The report suggests that passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is one way to spur the growth of the clean energy manufacturing sector in the U.S. Congress is close to doing just that. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America Clean Energy and Security Act. That bill would lead to a net increase of 1.7 million jobs in 10 years, according to analysis conducted by the Center for America Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute that was cited in the new report. It could also create more than 320,000 new manufacturing jobs in the clean energy sector. The Senate is now considering a similar bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.