Employment in North Carolina’s clean-energy companies grew 20 percent in 2013 even though the number of companies leveled off and the revenue produced by the industry dropped marginally, according to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association’s latest calculations.
The Research Triangle leads the state in clean-energy companies, with Charlotte remaining a distant second.
The association published its sixth North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Census this week. Employment has reached about 18,400 workers, up from the 15,200 the association estimated in 2012.
The number of companies remained about 1,100, and NCSEA estimates total revenue in the state to be just under $3.6 billion. That is down slightly for the $3.7 billion estimate a year ago.
More jobs likely
The report is based on responses from 570 of the N.C. companies in the clean-energy sector, NCSEA says.
“Importantly, all sectors of the clean energy industry anticipate adding additional jobs in 2014,” the report states. “These jobs, however, hinge on both political and market factors related to incentive access and consumer awareness.”
Three of four companies responding in the survey said streamlining the permitting process for clean-energy projects is needed in order to improve the industry and the market for clean energy. And as some legislators continue to push to end some clean-energy incentives, 54% of the companies survey identified access to incentives as a primary consideration in hiring.
“The numbers in this year’s census leave no doubt that the clean energy industry is continuing to emerge as a valuable contributor to the state’s economy,” said Ivan Urlaub, executive director for NCSEA. “It is the result of entrepreneurs, investors and workers receiving a clear message that North Carolina is ‘open for business,’ and that only comes about through good clean energy policy.”
The Research Triangle continues to lead the state in clean-energy companies, with 218 business locations and the equivalent of 10,082 full-time employees.
The Charlotte region ranks second with 127 business locations and 2,280 employees. The Advantage West region, surrounding Asheville, is third with 93 business locations and 1,460 employees.
The rise of the northeastern region of the state in the rankings is likely tied to the accelerated construction of solar projects in that area. Although there are just 22 business locations in that part of the state, it ranks fourth in the count of full-time employee equivalents, with 1,446.
The solar industry accounts for the largest part of clean-energy revenue in North Carolina, calculated at $1.1 billion by NCSEA. Energy-efficiency services for buildings ranks second at $985 million. Smart grid services and products account for about $611 million for third place.