It may be time for you to get charged by energy. From Beijing to Washington, D.C., this sector is considered to be one of the power sources that will drive the economic recovery. So far, the federal government has committed roughly $90 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package toward alternative energy, from electric car production to solar loan guarantees. According to a recent report from Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit devoted to improving public policy, the global clean energy economy has grown 230% since 2005 despite the economic downturn. And with an ongoing focus on energy security, global warming, and job creation, worldwide investment this year has expanded 25%, to $200 billion.
With the emphasis on “clean” fuels—solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal heat, and biofuels —young, visionary professionals and entrepreneurs can take advantage of some electrifying opportunities. Combined global revenue for solar photovoltaics, wind power, and biofuels reached $144.5 billion in 2009, a 15.8% increase over the previous year, reports energy research firm Clean Edge. States such as New Jersey and California are leading the drive in making it attractive via tax credits for businesses and utility companies to generate such forms of clean energy. At the same time, there are opportunities for those who can advance production of traditional fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal.
“There are a lot of opportunities both domestically and internationally for employment and professional growth,” says Frank M. Stewart, president and COO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. Not only engineers need apply, says Stewart. Those with backgrounds in public policy, law, sales, human resources, and business management are in demand as well. Stewart also believes energy efficiency—from home installation to designing the next line of electric cars—represents “the largest opportunity offering the greatest return for people of color in job creation and business development.”
Black Enterprise has found this sector so vital to our audience that our editors have developed two forums with high-powered executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The most recent event was held on Nov. 8. (See the full coverage of the Black Enterprise Energy Forum on BlackEnterprise.com.) On the following pages, we share with you four emerging leaders who are making their ascent within the industry. Their experiences may offer guidance on how you can access the next big opportunity.
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