Alternative Energy Jobs – Good/Bad News13 Jul

Good News

According to the Boston Globe (7/13/11), “Greater Boston ranks in the top 10 among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas for employment in the alternative energy industry, boosted by state policies that require utilities to purchase electricity generated by solar, wind and other nonpolluting power sources, according to a new study.” Is this employment picture sustainable without state support?

Bad News

In the July 7th issue of Forbes, The Coming Clean Tech Crash, Devon Swezey writes, “The global clean energy industry is set for a major crash. The reason is simple. Clean energy is still much more expensive and less reliable than coal or gas, and in an era of heightened budget austerity the subsidies required to make clean energy artificially cheaper are becoming unsustainable.”

The subject of wind energy, both on/off shore in Massachusetts, is treated in my blog posts of April 5, 7, 12, 14, 18, 20, 26, and 28. Capital equipment costs, development time, state subsidies and insufficient wind are issues that make wind energy far less competitive with respect to fossil fuel, electric generation sources.

“Clean tech crashes are nothing new. The U.S. wind energy industry has collapsed three times before, first in the mid 1990s and most recently in 2002 and 2004 when Congress failed to extend the tax credit that made it profitable. But the impact and magnitude of the coming clean tech crash will far outstrip those of past years.”

Cuts in clean energy are already underway in Europe with budget reductions in Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic and Italy. China, however, is expanding its clean energy support based on a ten year program and $760B. There is a reasonable chance that the clean tech industry will migrate to “only game in town,” namely China.

Path Forward- Back to Good News

The United States should support adequately budgeted, clean tech programs that consistently feature innovation (i.e., riskier projects) to develop energy generation technologies that are less costly than their fossil fuel counterparts. In this manner, government subsidies can be removed permanently, along with the creation of a competitive industry and many jobs. China does not have to win the clean tech game if the United States plays its cards well.

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.

Contact

For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.