Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) 2021 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report highlights that over 101,000 clean energy workers are employed in the commonwealth as of December 2020, representing an increase of 68% since 2010.
Additionally, in 2020, the clean energy industry contributed $13.7 billion to the gross state product (GSP), accounting for roughly 2.4% of the commonwealth’s GSP.
The industry’s contribution to GSP has increased by 50% since 2012, outpacing the 31% growth in the overall Massachusetts GSP during the same time. The report also found that Massachusetts ranks number one in the country for median clean energy wages and found that 61% of clean energy establishments are small businesses with 10 employees or fewer.
“With our continued investments and support, Massachusetts continues to be a national leader in driving the clean energy economy,” says Gov. Charlie Baker. “The commonwealth is committed to being net zero as a state by 2050, and the strength of the clean energy industry in Massachusetts will ensure we meet these goals cost effectively while delivering economic benefits to all of Massachusetts.”
“Through our continued investments in education, innovation, and entrepreneurship, Massachusetts has built a vibrant clean energy industry,” comments Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “Our administration is committed to supporting this industry and ensuring that it continues to contribute jobs, business development and economic opportunities in cities and towns across the commonwealth.”
Primarily due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report also found the state’s clean energy sector experienced a decrease in clean energy jobs of approximately 12,800 jobs through December 2020. Similar to the statewide labor market, the report identified that most clean energy jobs were lost between March and May 2020, with employers beginning to hire more in the second half of 2020.
Early estimates for 2021 reflect that the industry continues to rebound, expanding by an estimated 3.9%. While the report found modest gains of 8% in wind energy jobs in 2020, the offshore wind industry is poised to see unprecedented growth in the next few years. In 2022, the first large-scale offshore wind project in the United States, Vineyard Wind, will begin construction off the coast of Massachusetts, with additional projects to follow.
“The Baker-Polito administration has a longstanding commitment to invest in the clean energy sector while implementing policies that will protect our planet and create the green workforce of the future,” states Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Led by first in the nation offshore wind projects, the commonwealth is poised to generate gigawatts of clean affordable electricity and thousands of good paying jobs.”
“There is no question that 2020 was a difficult year that impacted many industries, including clean energy,” mentions MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “However, the clean energy industry in Massachusetts is resilient, largely due to the investments the Baker-Polito administration continues to make in order to effectively transition our state to a brighter future that spurs economic growth, promotes equity, and creates opportunities for all residents of the commonwealth.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic posed ongoing challenges to individuals, communities and industries, Massachusetts set its sights on the future, enacting comprehensive climate legislation. An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (the 2021 Climate Act) committed the state to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2030.
“This is an encouraging first step for much-needed climate legislation in Massachusetts, and we’re glad to see the Senate include key provisions for solar deployment in the bill,” says David Gahl, senior director of state affairs for the Northeast for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “In addition to expanded exemptions to the state’s solar net metering cap, the bill requires the Department of Energy Resources to recommend the design of a successor to the current SMART program with compensation based on the immense value that solar brings to the electric grid.”
Additionally, in October 2021, Baker filed legislation, An Act to Power Massachusetts’ Clean Energy Economy, which would direct $750 million in a new Clean Energy Investment Fund at MassCEC to scale its efforts in supporting clean energy innovation and job training, significantly expanding Massachusetts’s national leadership on clean energy and climate. Specifically, the legislation would fund grants, loans, equity investments, contracts and other forms of economic support for the advancement of clean energy technologies to commonwealth-based investors, entrepreneurs and institutions that are involved in the clean energy industry.
It supports the formation, growth, expansion and retention of Massachusetts’ leading clean energy businesses, institutions, and projects. In addition, the act supports public higher education institutions and vocational-technical education institutions as they create and enhance workforce development and technical training programs. It will support research and development, including the interrelationship between clean energy infrastructure and existing natural habitats, ecosystems and dependent species.