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The Recruiter’s Outlook: Can US Offshore Wind Jobs Overtake Solar?

I’m biased because I was born in New Jersey, but GO NEW JERSEY! If you work in renewable energy, you undoubtedly read about the state’s new renewable portfolio standard (RPS) increase to 50 percent by 2030. This is obviously going to be great news for distributed solar and energy storage, but New Jersey’s localities have an opportunity to become leaders in community solar and offshore wind.

According to the 2017 Solar Jobs Census, New Jersey has 7,106 jobs in solar and ranks 8th in the country. No state is catching up to California anytime soon — they enlist over 86,000 jobs in solar — but New Jersey can easily become the second or third largest job creator in clean energy within 2-3 years. I’m already in discussions with solar developers looking at commercial and community solar projects in New Jersey, and one of our EPC customers located in the state is busier than they’ve ever been.

Clean energy jobs grow 12 times faster than the overall employment rate. The initial boom in solar and wind energy jobs resulted from the ITC (Investment Tax Credit) and PTC (Production Tax Credit), but the next job growth wave is coming from corporate sustainability and state RPS mandates. This has been a huge catalyst for energy storage jobs, which have been growing at a double and triple digit clip nationally. Six East Coast states (including New Jersey) currently have 8 GW of committed offshore wind projects, which equates to thousands of jobs. This doesn’t even include the 25 GW of pipelined projects in the permitting phase. What once seemed like a far-fetched idea of emulating western Europe new power generation is finally becoming a reality. Offshore wind can quickly pass solar and onshore wind energy as the sector with the highest U.S. employment rates within renewables.

If you’d like more information about global jobs in renewable energy, I recommend IRENA’s employment report. Domestically, the Solar Foundation covers important ground with their annual Solar Census; and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issues a comprehensive report for onshore wind jobs in the U.S.