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Green-Backed Ventures Mean More Greenbacks

June 17, 2009 07:30 PM
by Anne Szustek
The green energy sector is creating jobs and inspiring ecologically sound investment—and other companies to do likewise.

Green Energy Vastly Outpaces Other Sectors in Job Creation

According to data released last Wednesday by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trust and cited by The Associated Press, companies involved in such ecological pursuits as solar and wind power, green engineering and producing environmentally friendly light bulbs saw their staffs grow 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007, the last year for which numbers were available. This is more than double the 3.7 percent job growth in all sectors over the same period.

To be fair, the report doesn’t encompass the past recession-riddled 18 months, which hasn’t entirely spared the green energy sector. Yet the industry is seeing green shoots, pun fully intended. A significant portion of the $787 billion federal stimulus bill is targeted toward energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

Among the most quickly expanding segments of the green energy industry are solar and wind energy jobs, hybrid diesel bus manufacturing, liquid biofuels and software to keep track of traffic. But overall, green sectors could be growing even more than Pew’s number show. Study director Kil Huh told the AP that any data that was not immediately quantifiable as green energy was not included. "Our numbers are probably conservative,” he was quoted as saying.

It’s All About Factory Efficiency

Big Three carmaker Ford has been making a considerable effort to become more sustainable recently.

Ford reduced water consumption in its factories by 24 percent during 2008, due partly to a new system for washing parts that cut down on wastewater by 95 percent. The company has also strengthened its focus on hybrid, compact and smaller-size cars, and plans to produce three car models featuring Ford’s Eco Boost technology, which is projected to improve fuel economy by as much as 20 percent.

Matter Network quoted Ford’s sustainability report: “We allowed our portfolio to become too dependent on popular and profitable trucks and SUVs, missing opportunities to advance production of small and midsize cars.”

Ford also plans to have its first plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars available next year.

Investor Sees Green

His interests in environmental preservation piqued by his move into organic winemaking, Kevin Parker, the international chair of Deutsche Bank’s Deutsche Asset Management unit, sees value in curbing global warming and renewable energy. About $4 billion in value, actually. Parker currently oversees some $613 billion of managed assets, with $4 billion of that geared toward green initiatives.

“I’m a devout capitalist, and there’s money to be made whilst respecting the planet and the environment,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “These are not mutually exclusive.” He goes on to say that by 2040, he sees market forces persuading companies to adopt environmentally sound business initiatives.

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