Barack Obama: Building a 'green collar' economy via nanotech manufacturing climate solutions

November 18 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 4 Hot

What happened?
Duke University researchers from the Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC) have released a report titled- Manufacturing Climate Solutions looking at ways of building new manufacturing jobs around a low-carbon economy.

Their strategy: transform the US manufacturing base and build ourselves into a climate solutions economy.

“Until now, there was no tangible evidence of what the jobs are, how they are created and what it means for U.S. workers. We are providing that here,” said Gary Gereffi, a Duke professor of sociology and lead author of the report. “We don’t guess where the jobs are; we name them. Our report uses value chains to show that clean technology jobs are also real economy jobs.”

Duke researchers assessed five (near term) carbon-reducing technologies with potential for future green job creation: LED lighting, high-performance windows, auxiliary power units for long-haul trucks, concentrating (thermal) solar power, and Super Soil Systems (a new method for treating hog wastes).

Why is this important to the future of energy
While the Duke team has highlighted near term opportunities, we cannot help but take a longer view of ‘green collar’ industries around the emerging era of nanoscale materials science and engineering. There is likely greater growth opportunities around jobs that do not currently exist, and in industries (e.g. thin film solar) that are currently not a part of the US economy.

Nanoscale materials (nanotubes & nanoparticles) integrated into materials manufacturing processes can change the fundamental performance of old commodities like wood, glass, plastic, ceramics, metals and steel.

Applying ‘nanoscale’ science to traditional materials is a game changer for the manufacturing world, and the US is ideally situated to bring value added products related to biotech, health sciences, agriculture, carbon solutions, sensors and embedded objects, robotics, transportation, smart grids, energy storage and distributed power systems, bioenergy and electric vehicles.

So instead of relying solely on activists who urge us to ‘consume ourselves’ into a green economy, we might turn to scientists and engineers who can actually ‘build it’ by extracting value from the application of nanoscale engineering.

What to watch in growth of ‘clean collar’ jobs

During the Presidential campaign Barack Obama (and others) promised to create the next wave of ‘green collar’ jobs. Obama hopes that the US can create 5 million of these cleantech jobs in the years ahead. Now it is time to translate the vision into practical steps. This includes identifying near term opportunities, and enabling new industries to grow organically via nanoscale materials engineering.

“Meeting the challenge of climate change will ramp up the supply chains that wind their way through the heart of American manufacturing,” said Jackie Roberts, director of sustainable technology at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the report’s sponsors. “It’s concrete evidence of the link between U.S. jobs and climate solutions.”

The report highlights ‘hidden economic opportunities exist within the supply chains that provide parts and labor for these five industries. The report includes a snapshot of the opportunities for U.S. manufacturing jobs, with a detailed breakdown of the supply chains and maps highlighting the location of companies positioned to support green jobs. States that stand to benefit most from jobs in these sectors include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.’

Materials sourced from EurkeaAlert press release

Copy of the study

Image transplantedmountaineer Flick CC Generic Attribution 2.0

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