Indiana sees a 7% jump in clean energy jobs. (Getty Images)
Clean energy businesses in Indiana added more than 5,600 jobs last year, according to a new report released Wednesday.
That’s after Indiana lost nearly 3% of its clean energy workforce in 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual Clean Jobs Midwest report — compiled by Environmental Entrepreneurs, a green business advocacy group — shows more than 86,215 Hoosiers working a clean energy job in 2021.
The new data indicates a nearly 7% jump in clean energy jobs across Indiana compared to 2020. The jobs are in sectors like energy efficiency, construction, transportation, renewables and clean fuels.
What’s contributing to the growth
In 2021, clean energy jobs grew more than two times faster than the state’s overall economy for an overall number of 86,215 jobs. More than twice as many Hoosiers worked in clean energy than the number of lawyers, accountants and auditors, web developers, and real estate agents in the state combined, according to the report.
Much of the growth was driven by the advanced transportation sector, which includes manufacturing of hybrid and electric cars, according to the report. As more automakers and their suppliers continue to shift to electric vehicles, the advanced transportation sector saw an increase of 25% in Indiana.
That translates to more than 4,150 new jobs added in the last year. Now, some 21,078 workers statewide are reported in the sector.
The Clean Jobs report noted that small businesses also largely drive Indiana’s clean energy sector. In 2021, 69% of the state’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 individuals.
Solar energy jobs, another highlight in Indiana, grew by 7.5% to 3,882 workers.
Still, the largest sector of the Indiana clean energy industry is energy efficiency, accounting for over 58% of the state’s clean energy workforce. The 49,959 energy efficiency workers in Indiana manufacture ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, install efficient lighting, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and install advanced building materials in homes and commercial buildings, according to the new report.
More clean energy jobs on the horizon
But despite the recent growth, advocates say there’s still “significant” room for more clean energy jobs in Indiana.
“There’s never been more stability and certainty in the market. Clean energy companies know that they can and should set up shop and stay here in the U.S., and the industry is destined to grow,” said Micaela Preskill, Midwest States Advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs. “When clean energy jobs grow, our economy benefits. These are jobs that are available to everyone.”
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that was signed into law by President Biden in August also opens up the opportunity for “thousands more” clean energy jobs in Indiana, Preskill said.
“With the IRA investing billions into the clean energy sector in the coming years, these jobs are set to grow at an unprecedented rate,” she said. “Indiana stands to benefit as the industry builds off its strong foundation with clean energy workers calling home in every corner of the Midwest. With policies that support strong wages, equity, and workforce training, a transformation to a cleaner economy that boosts the state’s entire economy is within reach.”
But to take full advantage of that funding, the report said Indiana should develop more workforce training programs and clean energy policies.
The report called on state policymakers to pass new state-level energy policies that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles to help leverage federal investment and create thousands of new jobs.
Additionally, Indiana needs to expand regional electric grid lines to increase access for more wind and solar energy projects on the grid.
“We must expand our regional transmission grid because many wind and solar projects just simply will not be built if the transmission is not there to integrate them,” Preskill said.
In 2011, Indiana lawmakers established the state’s Clean Energy Portfolio Standard — also known as the Comprehensive Hoosier Option to Incentivize Cleaner Energy, or CHOICE. The program sets a voluntary goal of 10% clean energy by 2025, based on the amount of electricity supplied by the utility in 2010. The goal is still much lower than other states, however.
The report follows recent announcements by numerous manufacturers that plan to expand operations that are clean-energy forward in Indiana.
In May, automotive manufacturing giant Stellantis and Samsung SDI, a battery and electronic materials manufacturer based in South Korea, announced a joint venture to invest more than $2.5 billion to build an EV battery facility in Kokomo, creating 1,400 new jobs.
General Motors in September additionally said it would invest $491 million to expand and upgrade operations at its Marion Metal Center to increase production of “future vehicles,” including electric cars.
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