A recent study found that the clean energy industry is the fastest-growing sector in Massachusetts, easily beating out behemoths like financial services, healthcare, and communications.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Census was published by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a quasi-public agency that runs a renewable energy trust fund of green power projects. The study found that clean energy industry had a 26 percent increase in jobs and now accounts for more than 14,000 jobs in the state. Those jobs are expected to grow three times faster than any other major industry, adding about 3,000 jobs in 2007. The next biggest increase was in the scientific, technical, and management services sector with an increase of 5.4 percent.
Three hundred and two companies, government agencies, and university research centers responded to the survey. Those in the renewable energy category said they will increase staff by an average of 30 percent in the next 12 months, while the energy efficiency sector will add an average of 25 percent more employees.
High fossil fuels costs and venture capital funding are contributing to the strong clean energy performance, as well as politicians and a public wanting action on global warming emissions.
However, the report also points out that the industry is still very young: of the 255 companies surveyed, 103 had annual revenues of less than $1 million. Most companies focus on selling their products to other companies within New England to speed up sales cycles. But this may result in limited growth if companies are passing up opportunities in faster growing and larger markets.
Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi agreed last month that by 2010, Massachusetts should offset all of its growth in electricity demand with increased efficiency.
The survey defined “renewable energy” as including solar power, biofuels, wind power, wave systems, solar-assisted fuel cells, and all fuel cell companies, although the study recognizes that fuel cell production may be powered by fossil fuels.