50% Renewable Energy Would Create Jobs, Investment in NM

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that solar installer, like the worker pictured above, will be the fastest growing job in the country over the next decade.

Image credit: U.S. Department of Energy

New analysis finds that a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in New Mexico could create up to 8,830 new jobs in New Mexico’s clean energy economy and stimulate over $4.6 billion of new investment in the state in 2030. It would also cut pollution and save customers money. For more on the modeling that is the basis for this analysis, click here.

Impact of RPS on the Local Solar & Wind Industries

The development of new utility-scale and rooftop solar installations to help meet a 50 percent RPS would bring new, significant investment to the state’s clean energy industry and its workers.

Note: Wind industry numbers are from 2016. Jobs are rounded to the nearest tens.

Note: Job growth for each industry is extrapolated from the capacity added in the Clean Energy Case. Jobs are rounded to the nearest tens.

New Mexico’s existing solar industry supports slightly over 2,500 jobs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Extrapolating from the current relationship between renewable energy capacity and jobs, the RPS could add about 7,100 new jobs to New Mexico’s solar industry by 2030 compared to current day levels.

Our power sector modeling forecasted an additional 2 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar and 130 MW of rooftop solar being built by 2030 to help meet the strengthened RPS requirements. This new solar capacity would represent about $2 billion of new capital investment, based on estimated capital costs of utility-scale and residential rooftop solar from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Wind power is already a success story for New Mexico. The state has seen prolonged economic growth in its wind energy industry and this industry now directly supports over 1,000 jobs in New Mexico. The state also added wind power capacity at a faster rate than any other state in the country in 2017.

The wind industry is expected to continue to see strong growth in the future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that wind technician will be the second fastest growing job in the country, only behind solar installer, over the next decade. A stronger RPS in New Mexico could help propel the state’s wind power industry even further. Extrapolating from 2016 employment and capacity data, the new wind capacity that is built to help meet the strengthened RPS could add as many 1,700 new clean energy jobs in the state compared to present day. Building this new wind energy would also drive over $2.6 billion in new capital investment by 2030, based on estimated capital costs from NREL.

For this economic analysis, we used a simple methodology to produce a rough estimate of the potential growth in clean energy jobs from a stronger renewable energy standard. While a simple extrapolation does not capture the nuanced dynamics of the clean energy economy, it does provide a high-level projection of the potential economic benefits from this policy. In New Mexico, the bulk of power sector jobs are in the manufacturing, construction, and professional services industries. These industries will grow as a result of policies that catalyze clean energy development, both in New Mexico and across the region.

New Mexico has the potential to be a leading clean energy manufacturer for the entire region. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, and the Solar Energy Industry Association, manufacturing makes up a significant portion of the state’s power sector jobs. With policies in place to incentivize in-state clean energy growth, New Mexico can capitalize on its outstanding resources, innovation hubs at the national labs and state universities, and growing manufacturing base to the benefit of the state’s economy and its residents.

A strong new renewable energy standard can spur significant new job and economic opportunity in New Mexico.

Research and analysis for this blog was conducted with the help of Arjun Krishnaswami and Patricia Valderrama.

About the Authors

Noah Long

Director, Western Region, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Arjun Krishnaswami

Climate Policy Lead, Innovation, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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