Clean energy jobs
In 2019, clean energy employed 61,800 Minnesotans. COVID-19 has dramatically shifted this number, with the latest numbers showing over 11,000 jobs lost in the clean energy sector. Unfortunately, these job losses have erased several years of industry gains. Despite this, the clean energy industry continues to serve our communities, care for employees, and innovate new solutions to address the crisis.
Minnesota’s clean energy industry will play a vital role in our state’s economic recovery because of its size, reach and potential for growth. Restoring and increasing jobs in this industry is a proven way to boost the economy and will be critical as policymakers work to get Minnesotans on their feet again.
There is a lot changing in Minnesota’s clean energy sector. You'll find ‘need to know’ information on this page and for comprehensive analysis of Minnesota’s clean energy jobs we invite you to visit www.cleanjobsmidwest.com.Clean energy can help restart Minnesota’s economy. To be part of the change, stay connected with us by following us on social media and signing up for our newsletter.
What do people working in clean energy do?
People working in clean energy have jobs in several industries. They may work in energy efficiency, manufacturing energy efficient windows and doors, or in construction working to retrofit buildings and save people money with efficient lighting or HVAC systems.
Clean energy jobs also include workers who are employed in industries that generate power from wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, and low-impact hydro technologies.
Minnesotans who build and develop hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, as well as those who develop clean fuels like biodiesel and non-corn ethanol from grasses or agricultural waste are also part of the clean energy sector.
In Minnesota, a growing sector of clean energy jobs are focused on advanced grid technologies that store energy on the grid and manage the distribution of energy to customers. People working in this sector are helping to modernize our electric grid and build a more efficient and resilient electric grid.
To learn more about the 61,000+ Minnesotans employed in clean energy visit our Names Behind the Numbers | Minnesota series.
How many people work in each clean energy sector?
Energy efficiency jobs continue to be the largest sector of clean energy employment in Minnesota with 3 out of every 4 clean energy jobs in state.
Minnesota’s second-largest sector of clean energy jobs is renewable energy, which employs more than 7,900 workers. These jobs have historically been some of the fastest-growing; in fact solar installer is the fastest-growing jobs in Minnesota according to Bureau of Labor statistics data.
Jobs by Sector:
Which sectors of clean energy are growing?
Minnesota’s clean energy sector has consistently added jobs at a faster rate than overall statewide job growth. Over the past several years; before the crisis hit, clean energy employers projected 7 percent growth in 2020 -- or adding more than 4,500 new jobs. In 2019, Minnesota saw the third-largest number of clean energy jobs gained in the Midwest.
Renewable generation grew 2.3 percent and this year the wind subsector added 129 more jobs. Wind jobs grew nearly 6 percent in 2019 as several new wind projects were completed and previously built projects were repowered.
Energy efficiency grew 2 percent; lighting grew 1.7 percent and advanced materials and traditional HVAC led growth for the energy efficiency subsector with 6 percent and 4.3 percent respectively.
The smart grid and energy storage sector experienced 5 percent growth in 2019. As costs decline for energy storage, and Minnesota’s utilities explore ways to modernize and strengthen the reliability of the electrical grid, there are more opportunities for cost-effectively using these technologies.
Minnesota also saw a 10 percent growth in people working in ‘other biofuels,’ leading the Midwest.
What else is there to know about clean energy jobs?
Clean energy jobs can also be categorized by the role they play in the value chain. Each value chain category captures jobs from multiple clean energy sectors. For example, construction jobs can include energy efficiency jobs and renewable energy jobs.
Just slightly behind North Dakota, Minnesota has the second largest percentage of clean energy jobs in construction within the Midwest region.
To learn more about clean energy workers, we have profiled a number of Minnesotans in our Names Behind the Numbers series. Read more about Eric Hansen (pictured on the right), the Director of Operations at Koda Energy in Shakopee. His role, classified as a utility worker, has played a major part in ensuring that Koda Energy, a biomass combined heat and power plant, runs smoothly. “Being a part of Minnesota’s clean energy economy is a fantastic feeling. It feels like we’re doing something worthwhile,” Eric tells us.
You can also read about Madhu Tennakoon (pictured on the right), a Machine Learning Developer at 75F. Madhu’s role is in energy efficiency. His job as a machine learning developer is about teaching a computer to decipher thousands of different data sets so it can learn to find hidden patterns and relationships and offer crucial engineering insights into complex physical systems. “You feel a sense of pride knowing that at the end of the day, you're doing something that's going to be helpful further down the road -- not just keeping your consumers happy by keeping them comfortable, but you’re also meeting the energy needs and helping people be more energy efficient,” he says.
Where are clean energy jobs located?
Jobs in clean energy are located in communities across the state. In fact, 1 in 3 clean energy jobs are located in Greater Minnesota, with 1 in 5 clean energy jobs being located in rural communities.
Small businesses are the backbone of the industry, 70 percent of clean energy businesses have fewer than 20 employees.
The metro areas with the largest number of clean energy jobs are Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Cloud, and Duluth. Take a look at this map to see where clean energy jobs are located by county, district, and metro area.
Who works in clean energy?
Meet some of the Minnesotans working in clean energy in our Names Behind the Numbers series.
Compared to 2019 statewide workforce demographics, Minnesota’s clean energy industry was slightly more racially and ethnically diverse. However, the industry lagged Minnesota’s overall workforce in a few demographic areas. In particular, females made up 50 percent of Minnesota’s overall workforce, but only 27 percent of the state’s clean energy workforce.
The Clean Jobs Midwest report does not provide wage data or race and gender breakdowns for manager-level and executive positions, though that is important data for analyzing diversity, equity and inclusion.
Currently, 11 percent of clean energy jobs are filled by veterans-- more than twice the representation of veterans in the state’s overall workforce. The large ratio of veterans transitioning to clean energy jobs is the result of the U.S. Department of Defense's long-standing commitment to investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and training programs that prepare veterans for private-sector employment in industries like solar.
What policies can support clean energy development?
At the state level, Minnesota can
- Encourage technology and market-driven job creation.
- Address policy and regulatory market barriers to investment in energy storage and energy efficiency for businesses, communities, and households.
- Specifically, lawmakers can pass the ECO Act, which improves upon the existing Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) to further energy waste reduction and drive job creation.
- Support building efficiency measures: Buildings present an immediate opportunity for policymakers to support building owners in making targeted reductions in energy waste and harmful emissions.
- Invest in system benefits and critical infrastructure: Community resilience is enhanced through smart clean energy investments. Across the state, rural areas, energy cooperatives, and under-resourced communities face challenges related to critical infrastructure. Building clean energy in these communities spurs economic activity and improves community.
- Support workforce development: Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the clean energy industry faced hiring challenges. We must ensure the state’s economic recovery includes a strong future workforce supported by registered apprenticeship, training and education programs.
At the federal level, lawmakers should keep energy efficiency on track, rev up advanced transportation, boost renewables and invest in energy storage and other cutting edge technologies.
Looking for more information about clean energy jobs?
You can also contact your legislator today to let them know that you support clean energy. The Minnesota Legislature makes it easy to identify who represents you in St. Paul. Click here to identify your legislators and contact them to let them know you support clean energy jobs in Minnesota.