A new study released today suggests that 274,000 additional jobs can be added to the U.S. economy if the country sets a goal of having 25 percent of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as biomass, hydropower, solar, waste-to-energy and wind. An industry coalition that represents the largest renewable energy industries in the U.S. commissioned the “Job Impacts of a National Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)” research, which was conducted by independent firm Navigant Consulting, Inc. Traditional manufacturing states –- and states in the Southeast that have traditionally leaned toward coal for power generation — stand to benefit the most, the study found.


The RES Alliance, which includes GE among its members, says a stronger national standard would support hundreds of thousands of new American jobs and prevent a near-term collapse in some industries. With a 25 percent Renewable Electricity Standard, or RES, by 2025, every state will see renewable electricity supported job growth, the study found. Click on the image to enlarge it and to view the footnotes.

As USA Today reports in its story today, “Unlike three dozen other countries, including China, the U.S. doesn’t have a national standard to drive use of renewable energy, although it’s being debated in Congress.” Although 30 states have renewable standards, the alliance told the paper that “state standards are often unenforceable and lack the punch of a national standard that would more forcefully drive use of renewables. That would entice companies to put manufacturing and operations in the U.S. as opposed to other countries, they say.”


The chart above show’s the study’s analysis of job creation in renewables industries if a 12 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent standard were adopted. Job growth in the biomass, waste-to-energy and hydropower industries would particularly benefit the Southeastern U.S., the study found. Click the chart to enlarge it.

* Read the full study
* Learn more about the RES Alliance
* Read “Renewable energy commitment could double jobs” in USA Today


The study found that direct jobs in the renewable electricity industry are focused in construction and manufacturing, but span many sectors. Click the chart to enlarge it.

The release of the study results come just as GE officially dedicated a $45 million Renewable Energy Global Headquarters in Schenectady, New York this week. The new facility spurred the creation of more than 650 new jobs in Schenectady, 150 more than originally anticipated and a year ahead of schedule.


Green hornet: A 48-kilowatt GE solar system installed nearby helps to power the building. It also meets federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards. Victor Abate, vice president, renewable energy for GE Power & Water, said the new HQ is “an important symbol of the rapid growth and success of our renewable energy business. When we entered the wind energy industry in 2002, it was a $200 million business for us. Today it has grown significantly, with revenues topping $6 billion.”

 


The big board: A state-of-the-art Remote Operations Center at the headquarters is one of two global facilities that provides continuous monitoring and diagnostic services for GE’s installed base of wind turbines and solar power electronics. As the local Daily Gazette described it: “The heart of the facility is its operations center, where employees monitor far-flung wind turbines from computer stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each employee is responsible for some 750 wind turbines. Generally, an employee can troubleshoot a turbine problem from the work station. For more complex problems, ‘we can pull in 150 engineers here to diagnose it,’ Abate said. In some cases, GE sends in mobile engineers to the site, which are often remote locations, to fix problems.”

 


Look familiar? GE Reports readers surely recognize this giant wind turbine blade, which is now permanently installed at the new HQ. We chronicled the massive blade’s highway journey across the U.S. from its Iowa construction facility in our “Blade Runners” video series. The dedication ceremony also marked the installation of GE’s 13,500th wind turbine globally. Together, they generate enough electricity to power nearly 6 million U.S. homes. GE is the largest supplier of wind turbines in North America, and the company’s 1.5-megawatt wind turbine is the most widely used wind turbine in the world.

* Read the Renewable Energy HQ announcement
* Watch “Blade runners: How 134-foot wind blades are born” on GE Reports
* Watch “Blade runners: GE’s wind blade breezes into town” on GE Reports
* Watch “Took a whole lot of trying, just to get up that hill” on GE Reports
* Read more GE Reports stories about our energy business