In its annual State of the Industry report, the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) reported that employment in the energy efficiency field is expected to increase in 2013, led by growth in the commercial and industrial sector.
Employers cite a need for analytical skills for big data; energy engineering for design, implementation and evaluation; market research and management; and project management, tracking and reporting. The most promising trends continue to be increased energy efficiency activities at the state level, and changing customer attitudes and interests about energy efficiency.
While challenges remain in converting consumer behaviors toward acceptance of energy efficiency and demand response programs, the commercial and industrial sector remains a largely untapped market with the greatest potential for expansion.
According to the report, “many in the commercial sector are looking for cost savings in the sluggish economy and energy can be a substantial percent of their operating costs. An increasing number of these customers are putting in place corporate sustainability or energy efficiency policies. They also tend to have relationships with their utilities, which can be leveraged into energy efficiency program participation.”
The report found that in 2012, 66 percent of the respondents said that the number of employees involved in energy efficiency and demand response activities had grown. The survey also found that 63 percent projected an increase for 2013. One thought leader commented that more states are going to increase energy efficiency, and no state has peaked in energy efficiency potential, so the number of workers needed will continue to rise.
AESP’s State of the Industry report was prepared before such measures as President Obama’s plan for an Energy Security Trust and before the wind energy Production Tax Credit extension, “So it is exciting to see that energy efficiency is forecasted to move ahead, even without federal mandates,” said AESP president and CEO Meg Matt.
The report also identified the biggest barriers to consumer adoption of energy efficiency programs:
- Lack of awareness of available utility programs
- The economic recovery
- Low natural gas prices
- Reduction in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- Technological barriers to deployment of programs
- Consumer privacy concerns.
The 2013 AESP State of the Industry Report is based on an online AESP member survey fielded in December 2012, and interviews with 17 thought leaders in December 2012 and January 2013.