A look back on 2020

As we wind down 2020 and the final weeks of the Trump administration, we prepare for four years under President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, and two years of certainty for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar (some energy storage) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind. All a welcome relief for most working in our industry. Thank you to all the lobbyists and lawmakers who made this happen!

This is our last newsletter of 2020, and we'll be sharing some of our observations and insight on high-level talent acquisition within renewable energy.. I'm honored to say that January marks our 10th year in the marketplace! Thank you to our customers and job-seekers for supporting EnergeiaWorks through the years. As a thank you, we’re giving away a Birksun solar-powered backpack every month of 2021! Be on the lookout for this giveaway on our social media channels. And of course, thank you to my team at EnergeiaWorks! #teamEW wouldn’t be #teamEW without all of you!

Was there clean energy job growth in 2020?
There are not too many industries that saw job growth in 2020, and that stands for renewable energy as well. While the official numbers from SEIA, AWEA, ESA, and the Solar Foundation won’t be out for months (I’ll gather this data and aim to put out another conclusive report at the end of Q1), I can predict some of what we’ll see based on EnergeiaWorks’ demand. Q1 of 2020 was the single best quarter in company history -- and also just before the COVID pandemic hit. EnergeiaWorks started to recover in July, but we couldn’t make up for lost time. All things considered, we had a decent year (Y2Y down 6.5%), and our demand for service in Q1 is extremely high. I’m predicting that we’ll get back to our typical 20% growth in 2021.

I can confidently say that we will see energy production growth from 2019 to 2020 in wind energy, residential & commercial solar installations, utility-scale development, and energy storage installations and project development. But job growth may be flat overall. Some jobs were added, some were eliminated, and some hiring budgets were pushed into 2021. We’ve executed more contracts over the last 8 weeks (for Q1 hires) than any other 2-month period in company history. This tells me that some 2020 hires were pushed into Q1-2021, but this also tells me that there’s extreme confidence in our industry for the incoming Biden administration.

I am predicting that onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, and energy storage will see double-digit growth each year under the Biden administration. Of course, I will continue to monitor the employment market in clean energy and report more industry data each month. At the end of Q1, I’ll plan to do a deep-dive into 2020 hiring in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and energy storage once the associates give us some hiring facts. I choose not to speculate too much, but I can predict some data based on my expertise. I do think we’ll see great numbers from the energy storage industry as the amount of exclusive energy storage developers and private equity focused on energy storage has grown significantly in just two years. Energy Storage Association (ESA) was calling for the deployment of 35MW of energy storage projects by 2025 - this has now been revised as of August to boast 100MW of energy storage projects by 2030, and in turn, creating 200,000 industry jobs. This is the first year that I actually believe this goal! While stand-alone storage is not included in the current ITC legislation, state mandates can continue to drive the industry. My home state of New Jersey joined NY, CA, NV and MA in creating the Clean Energy Economy legislation to build 600 MW of energy storage by 2021 and 2,000 MW by 2030 target in 2018. What if other states or utility commissions create these mandates? Imagine the scope of job development!

How did EnergeiaWorks fair during a pandemic year?
Heading into the new year, our current roster of open positions (68 roles across 30 active hiring clients) is a strong pipeline for our company. Is this a sign for things to come for all of 2021? I believe it is. The ITC federal tax incentives for solar and the wind PTC received two year extensions. This will positively affect investment, development, and construction. We also have continued efforts of corporate sustainability and state RPS's that will continue to drive incentives for renewable energy growth.

While our revenue represents just a fraction of the overall hiring in renewable energy, EnergeiaWorks is the largest recruiting firm that exclusively searches clean energy in the US and Canada, and I believe our revenue is a good indication of the overall job health in renewables. Throughout the year, we filled roles in wind and solar manufacturing, distributed generation and utility-scale engineering and construction, commercial and utility-scale project development, as well as new projects in hydroelectricity, offshore wind, energy storage, and waste-to-energy projects. Here's a snapshot of our revenue by industry and vertical. Some notable change is a greater hiring spend for consulting services, private equity, energy storage, and independent power producers (as more developers choose to hold assets). We also gained 10% more hires on solar and lost 10% of hires across our wind customers.

EnergeiaWorks Revenue 2020

  • Solar 76%
  • Onshore Wind 10%
  • Renewables (supporting more than one technology) 5%
  • Development 32%
  • Manufacturing (including software) 12%
  • IPP 30%
  • EPC 13%
  • Private Equity 7%
  • O&M Service 5%
  • Consulting Services 4.5%

If you’d like more information about global jobs in renewable energy, I recommend IRENA’s employment report. Domestically, The Solar Foundation covers important ground with their annual Solar Census, and AWEA issues a comprehensive report for onshore wind jobs in the US.

If you’d like to have a discussion about the effects of the pandemic on your hiring strategy, please reply to this email to set up a meeting with me. If you are currently exploring a new job in your renewable energy career, we invite you to have a look at our careers portal. If you’re looking to hire top talent in manufacturing, project development, finance, construction, operations, or energy asset management professionals, reach out to us today.

January 1, 2021 William V Liuzza

Get exclusive access to EnergeiaWorks content and events:

Sign up to our mailing list to receive our monthly renewable industry newsletter and for invitations to exclusive industry events.