It sure does seem like people left and right are jumping on the green bandwagon these days. Just look at the past figures and future projections for the Hybrid/Electric vehicle market:
The reason growth at the turn of the millennium seemed stagnant is because of the limited supply of batteries necessary for an electric vehicle’s drive-train. The laws of supply and demand apply here; just like your high-school economics teacher tried telling you.
1999 and 2000 saw the world’s first mass produced hybrid vehicles with the release of the Honda Insight, and the Toyota Prius, respectively. Despite government incentives and rebates, the early-adopter cost of this new, hybrid technology was prohibitive to many. Only 17,000 first generation Insights were sold, but it still marked an important shift in the automotive industry.
The Toyota Prius–as you are all aware now–enjoyed a much greater and sustained success than Honda. Since it’s initial U.S. release in 2000, over 1.8 million Prius (Priuses?) have been sold. Those figures have grown, like the above graph suggests, due to a greater availability of efficient batteries and a greater demand for these types of vehicles.
The earliest hybrid vehicles utilized nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. These are slowly being replaced by more efficient (but more expensive) lithium-ion batteries. This transition to a newer and more efficient technology is doubly important in vehicles, where every pound shaved off of a car’s curb weight translates into better gas mileage.
This past June, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris broke ground on a large-format battery manufacturing division in Michigan called Dow Kokam. Once the Midland, Michigan park is at full production, over 1.2 billion watt-hours of energy capacity will be produced annually. This is enough production to build 60,000 hybrid vehicles every year, as well as directly employing 800 people, in addition to thousands of other ancillary jobs.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, your probably wondering what this has to do with green jobs. There are many facets to the economic implications of this burgeoning industry. Firstly, people need to be hired to do the research and manufacturing. Once there is a larger supply of high-tech batteries, there can be a correspondingly larger supply of electric/hybrid vehicles. With more vehicles, there will be a greater need for vehicle manufacturing jobs, maintenance techs, etc. President Obama estimates that the current plan for investing in green technology will result in over 800,000 jobs.
It all boils down to this: an investment in green tech yields a twofold dividend; it adds jobs while stimulating the economy. Truly, a no brainer.
This post was written by Daniel Fielding, editor of Everything Left and guest blogger extraordinaire. Daniel typically writes on environment and technology, but has been known to drift off on a tangent or two”¦