Advanced energy can grow Iowa’s economy and create good jobs

New report shows Iowa’s solar & wind industries could support 18,000 jobs annually
Media Contact:

Kate Ringness –  |  866.517.5045 ext. 701

Date Published: April 11, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Building on Iowa’s strengths in wind power and solar energy can maximize job growth and give the state a competitive economic edge. That’s according to the Iowa Jobs Project, a new report created in partnership with the University of Iowa and led by the American Jobs Project. The report is funded by The JPB Foundation, the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society.

“Our research shows that smart policies and a focus on industrial clusters can allow states to become hubs of innovation and job creation in advanced energy industries that dovetail with a state’s own strengths,” said Kate Ringness, program manager for the American Jobs Project.

“For Iowa, this approach could employ an average of almost 18,000 people annually in the wind and solar energy industries over the next 15 years,” Ringness said.

Millions of Americans lost good-paying jobs during the recession, and unfortunately, many of the jobs created during the recovery have been in relatively low-skill, low-income occupations. In contrast, the Iowa Jobs Project proposes innovative strategies and policies designed to create thousands of skilled jobs that pay well for Iowans today and into the future and informed by principles of competition, local control, and less red tape.

The report recommends innovative strategies to support job creation by capitalizing on growing market opportunities and aligning manufacturing with critical economic system components, including access to capital, innovation ecosystems, and workforce development.

The Iowa Jobs Project finds that:

  • In recent years, Iowa spent more than $590 million annually to import fuel to the state. Iowa can keep this money in-state and grow the economy by developing advanced energy industries.
  • Iowa’s wind industry is an ideal mechanism for job growth due to its strong foundation of original equipment manufacturers, skilled labor base, well-established research institutions, and extensive untapped wind resources that could generate electricity for export.
  • Iowa’s wind industry has the opportunity to employ an average of more than 10,000 Iowans annually over the next 15 years.
  • If harnessed, rooftop solar panels alone could account for 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity needs. Demand for rooftop solar is increasing in Iowa due to favorable policy conditions and the availability of Solar Renewable Energy Credits, which create a market ripe for growth in Iowa.
  • The solar industry in Iowa could employ an average of over 7,700 Iowans annually over the next 15 years.

“By taking a comprehensive look at the opportunities available in Iowa for creating high-tech jobs that pay well, this report provides a roadmap for government, industry, suppliers, and workforce development educators,” said Dr. Jerald Schnoor, Allen S. Henry Chair in Engineering at the University of Iowa. “Most important for me is the emphasis on solar technologies as the missing piece of the puzzle for Iowa to continue its nationwide leadership in renewable energy resources.”

The American Jobs Project website, which launched this month, features reports on Iowa and nine other states, as well as a Policy Bank detailing best practices and innovative ideas for advanced energy job growth. To learn more, or to download a copy of the Iowa report, visit