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S.C. clean energy firms add jobs, revenue

Staff Report 
Published Oct. 3, 2013

The number of jobs in South Carolina’s clean energy industry rose 3.6% in 2013 over the previous year, according to a new study released Wednesday by the SC Clean Energy Business Alliance.

Figures from the 2013 South Carolina Clean Energy Jobs Census report showed there were 17,913 full-time equivalent employees working in the clean energy sector during the year.

The industry’s rate of growth compares with the state’s total employment growth rate of 1.4% between 2011 and 2012, the report said.

Overall, the state’s clean energy sector generated more than $813 million in annual gross revenue, an increase of 11.9% over 2011, said Joseph Von Nessen, an economist at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, who worked on the study.

Nearly 74% of 161 self-identified clean energy firms were small companies, reporting annual gross revenue of less than $1 million.

Examples of clean energy businesses include those in solar power, energy efficiency and building sciences, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, energy storage and alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

Companies involved in commercial nuclear power and recycling were not included in the survey.

“South Carolina is fortunate to have such a significant presence in the clean energy industry,” said Jim Poch, executive director of the alliance. “The increase in clean energy jobs in South Carolina taking place today, along with the rising demand for cleaner resources of energy as we move toward a less carbon-dependent future, calls for our state to create the best environment possible to support this industry’s continued success.”

A mix of grants and tax incentives can help bolster the industry, officials said.

The survey found most clean energy businesses are confident about future demand for their products and services, adding that 80% of firms surveyed planned to add or retain staff in the coming year.

The largest growth in clean energy business was among those that involves in solar energy and energy/efficiency building sciences. These firms sell and distribute their products and services to local markets.