Northern Virginia continues to dominate advanced energy jobs, report shows

A worker installs solar panels at Washington and Lee University. (Photo courtesy of Secure Futures LLC.)

Advanced energy jobs continue to be largely clustered in major metro areas in eastern Virginia, a report released this week by a national energy industry business group shows.

According to data from Advanced Energy Economy, the largest number of advanced energy jobs in Virginia are found in Fairfax County, the state’s largest locality. Fairfax, population 1.1 million, clocks in at 20,722 advanced energy jobs. Its neighbors also make a strong showing, with Loudoun coming in at No. 2 (5,438 jobs), Arlington at No. 4 (4,597 jobs) and Prince William at No. 7 (4,080 jobs).

Other places that ranked highly include the Hampton Roads and Richmond metro areas.

Many of the lowest-ranking places on the group’s list are found in the Southside region of the state, as well as the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

The term “advanced energy” covers a wide range of energy technologies and services. Besides solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power, electric and hybrid vehicles, energy efficiency solutions, energy storage, natural gas electric generation, biofuels and smart grid innovations are all considered “advanced energy.”

The group, which describes itself as an businesses organization aiming “to bring about a prosperous economy based on secure, clean, affordable energy,” estimates that there are currently 101,400 jobs in the advanced energy sector in Virginia, roughly three-quarters of which are related to energy efficiency. According to Robert Keough, senior vice president of content for AEE, these numbers are “headcount” figures encompassing both part- and full-time jobs.

In an email Keough clarified that AEE classified as an advanced energy worker “anyone whose job is supported, in whole or in part, by advanced energy work.”

“He/she need not work exclusively in advanced energy to count,” he added.

Virginia has encouraged the growth of renewable energy sources and infrastructure through the Grid Transformation and Security Act passed by the General Assembly in 2018. Among other measures, this legislation declared the development of 5,000 megawatts of solar and wind energy to be in the public interest and required electric utilities to formulate long-term energy efficiency plans.