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Green Jobs Could Top 37M in 2030: Report

Green collar jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors employed more than 9 million Americans in 2007, producing more than $1 trillion in sales, according to a new report.

The two industries hold the the potential of generating 37 million jobs by 2030, but this will be more difficult to achieve without the proper policies in place at the federal and state levels, according to the American Solar Energy Society and Management Information Services Inc., which together released the report, "Defining, Estimating and Forecasting the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industries in the U.S. and in Colorado."

Aggressive policies are needed immediately to maximize green jobs gains, especially in later years, according to lead author Roger Bezdek of Management Information Services. "Every year we lose on the front end has a negative and unfortunate impact at the back end," Bezdek said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

The report is the second of its kind produced by the two organizations and may be the only example of time-series research on existing green jobs, the vast majority of which are found in the private sector. The groups pegged green jobs in the two industries at 8.5 million, with 972 billion in annual sales.

One of the challenges in producing the report, the authors said, is the lack of agreed-upon definitions of what constitutes the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. The report sets its own standard definition and forecasts growth through 2030 using three scenarios -- business-as-usual, a moderate scenario where some pro-energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are enacted, and an advanced scenario that pushes the envelope on cutting edge technologies, policies and market conditions.

If nothing is done and we proceed in the business-as-usual fashion, the two industries may generate an additional 16.3 million jobs by 2030, compared to 19.5 million in the moderate scenario. The most robust policies could produce 37.2 million jobs by 2030.

Hot sectors with the highest revenue growth included solar thermal and photovoltaics, biofuels and fuel cells. The jobs most in demand will include electricians, mechanical engineers, welders, metal workers, accountants, analysts, environmental scientists and chemists -- the vast majority of which are existing jobs that will take on environmental dimension.

The report also offers an in-depth look at these industries at the state level, using Colorado as a test case. According to the report, the sectors produced $10.3 billion in sales and employed more than 91,000 in Colorado in 2007, comprising more than 4 percent of gross state product.

As many as 613,000 jobs and up to $61.5 billion in sales could be achieved in the state by 2030 under the advanced scenario.

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