Report: NC has 23,000 clean energy jobs

North Carolina’s clean energy workforce swelled to nearly 23,000 jobs in 2014, a boom driven by policies favorable to the development of solar farms and green buildings.

The findings were issued Tuesday by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, the industry trade group in Raleigh that helped lobby for the policies that spawned the industry.

The state had just 1,824 clean energy jobs in 2007, the trade group said in an earlier report. That was the year the state legislature enacted the renewable energy portfolio standard, which requires electric utilities to use increasing levels of renewable resources, such as solar, wind and biomass.

Last year, North Carolina ranked fourth nationally for cumulative solar farm development and ranked third in the country for solar megawatts developed in 2014, according to another trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association has issued its annual clean energy industry census since 2008 to measure the impact of the state’s clean energy policies. The industry census also has the effect of demonstrating to skeptics how subsidies contribute to economic development.

The clean energy trade group said the state’s clean energy sector is dominated by two areas – building efficiency and solar energy – together representing 59 percent of all clean sector businesses.

The sector also includes businesses that specialize in biofuels, smart grids, energy storage, alternative vehicle fuels and fuel cells.