The Potluck

Minnesota down 6,400 clean energy jobs in 2020, report says

By: - August 11, 2021 2:04 pm

Wind turbines rise up above farmland on the outskirts of the state capital on Nov. 19, 2013 near Middleton, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Minnesota lost more than 6,400 sustainable energy jobs in 2020 — a decline of about 10%, according to a report released Wednesday.

2020 was the first time employment in sectors like renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation shrank in Minnesota in at least five years, likely driven by the pandemic, according to the report from groups E2, Clean Energy Trust and Clean Energy Economy MN. The industry started to rebound in the last half of the year, however, the report says.

At the peak of the pandemic, more than 11,500 Minnesota workers in sustainable energy jobs applied for unemployment benefits, according to the report. By the end of the year, the industry had recovered about half those jobs.

Nearly 75% of Minnesota’s 55,329 clean energy jobs are in energy efficiency, nearly 8,000 of which are in the HVAC sector. Another 14% are in renewable energy, like solar and wind. The remainder fall into the categories of advanced transportation, including hybrid and electric cars, as well as energy grid and biofuels.

Although the clean energy industry saw jobs decline overall, employment in advanced transportation increased by roughly 3,250 jobs — about 2% — during 2020.

Roughly 12,440 Minnesotans worked in traditional energy sectors in 2020, including fossil fuels, vehicle manufacturing and gas, coal, fossil fuels and nuclear power generation, according to a report from the National Association of State Energy Officials.

Clean Energy Economy MN is pushing for Minnesota to make the state 100% reliant on clean electricity by 2040, increase funding for energy infrastructure and support training programs for clean energy jobs.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.