The renewable energy sector has been one of the few bright spots in the economy over the past two years, growing rapidly and adding jobs – thanks to supportive federal policies. However, when President Obama recently called upon Congress to support his administration’s plan to stimulate the economy and preserve and create more jobs, recommendations to expand federal support for renewable energy were largely missing. Bioenergy and other renewable energy investments offer tremendous potential. Congress and the administration should give federal renewable energy policies and incentives a second look.
A recent report released by 25x25 from the University of Tennessee’s Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group shows the tremendous job-creating potential of pursuing a national goal of producing 25 percent of the nation’s energy (including heat, power, and transportation fuels) from renewable sources by 2025. An estimated 1.4 million jobs and $208 billion in economic growth could be created by 2015, and 2.9 million jobs and $411 billion in economic growth by 2020. The vast majority of the direct jobs created under such a plan likely would be in the agricultural sector, producing biomass feedstock for bioenergy. However, the other renewable energy sectors would likely generate much more employment and economic growth overall, including both direct and indirect impacts. The study finds that every state would benefit under such a plan.