Navigant Research Blog

Energy Storage Industry Jobs Linked to Energy Storage Capacity

Anissa Dehamna — May 25, 2017

Jobs in the energy storage industry in the United States are expected to grow substantially over the next decade. In a white paper prepared for the Energy Storage Association (ESA) on an Energy Storage Vision in the United States, Navigant Research modeled the value of 35 GW of energy storage by 2025 against the cost of storage in the same period. Value was measured in terms of job creation, emissions reductions, grid operational cost savings, and reliability.

Jobs in the US Energy Industry

In January 2017, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published its U.S. Energy and Employment Report, calculating the total employment across sectors of the energy industry, including storage. The findings in this report provided a reference point for estimating total employment in the industry between 2017 and 2025.

According to the U.S. Energy and Employment Report, there were a total of 90,831 individuals directly employed in the US energy storage industry during 2016. These direct jobs include battery and component manufacturing and R&D, engineering and construction (project development), operations and maintenance, sales, marketing, management, administrative, and other positions. Most of these portions of the value chain will see job growth as the industry scales.

Energy Storage Capacity and Jobs

Navigant Research estimates that approximately 225 MW of new energy storage capacity was deployed in the United States during 2016. Using the DOE estimate as a starting point, this represents 403.7 jobs per MW of installed energy storage system capacity. Given that the storage industry is still nascent, and considering the complexities of storage technology project development, we expect the number of jobs per unit of capacity to start high and then decrease rapidly over time. By comparing solar PV industry jobs per unit of new capacity over the past decade, Navigant Research estimated future job creation under the ESA Energy Storage Vision market forecast.

In 2008, about 250 MW of new solar PV capacity was installed in the United States, and the industry supported approximately 35,000 jobs. As the market and annual deployments grew, the number of jobs per MW of capacity decreased substantially. In 2016, an estimated 10,800 MW of new solar PV was built in the United States, and the industry employed 260,777 people per the Solar Foundation’s National Jobs Census 2016. This equates to 24.1 jobs per MW of new capacity.

 Decline in Number of Energy Storage Industry Jobs per MW

Navigant Research expects a similar decline in the number of industry jobs per MW of new energy storage capacity as the market matures. The number of solar jobs per MW of new capacity decreased gradually until 2011, the year after the solar industry experienced a bump in deployments. Market growth triggered industry learning, efficiency, and economies of scale in the solar PV space. Given the current state of the storage industry and growth projections, Navigant Research estimates that the energy storage industry is on the verge of experiencing a similarly dramatic decrease in the number of industry jobs per MW of new capacity. The number of jobs per incremental MW in the storage industry is expected to decrease from 403.7 in 2016 to 50.9 in 2021 and 32.5 in 2025 for a total of 368,836 jobs in 2025.

Cumulative Energy Storage Industry Jobs, Vision Scenario, United States: 2016-2025

(Source: Navigant Research)

Navigant Research will discuss the Energy Storage Vision results and other key findings during a webinar with Matt Roberts, executive director of the ESA, on May 30 at 2 p.m. EDT.

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