First comprehensive state overview of clean energy sector released by Arkansas Advanced Energy Association

LITTLE ROCK – The clean technology sector grew at a faster rate than the rest of the Arkansas economy over the last eight years and shows the greatest potential for continued growth, according to a recent report by the Southern Growth Policies Board and released today by the newly-formed Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA).

The “Arkansas Clean Technology Primer” is the first comprehensive overview of the state’s clean tech sector, which has grown from a handful of companies in 2003 to more than 80 companies today employing thousands of Arkansans, according to the report.

“The Primer shows that the clean tech sector represents a significant growth opportunity for our state’s economy,” said Steve Patterson, AAEA Executive Director. “Global demands for energy are rising rapidly and those states that diversify energy resources are most likely to attract new jobs and prosper.”

The Primer cites recent studies by Brookings Institute and the Pew Center on States that agree that while Arkansas endured an overall decline in jobs between 2001 and 2010, the clean tech sector grew from between 7.8 percent and 16 percent depending on methods used to define clean tech.

Recent advanced energy job growth in the state includes wind component manufacturers like Nordex USA, Inc. in Jonesboro and LM Wind Power in Little Rock and FutureFuel Chemical Co., a biodiesel manufacturer in Batesville.

The AAEA asked Southern Growth Policies Board for the statewide study to more fully understand the scope and economic impact of advanced energy in Arkansas.

“This honest assessment of the clean tech business sector in Arkansas will help key decision makers better understand the economic impact that advanced energy companies have on Arkansas,” said Gary McChesney, AAEA Board member and Chief Technology Officer of FutureFuel Chemical Co. in Batesville. “At FutureFuel, we’re excited to be a part of this growing sector and look forward to working with our colleagues at the AAEA to encourage future job growth.”

In Arkansas, advanced energy includes energy efficient buildings, energy efficient farm solutions, biofuels and bio-products, compressed natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric technologies, Patterson said. These industries produce energy savings, use resources more productively, reduce dependence on foreign oil and reduce health and environmental costs.

The Clean Tech Primer identified strong support in the state for research, entrepreneurs and existing businesses, which are all critical ingredients for economic growth in advanced energy. “Today we’ve made the report public as a first step toward gaining greater understanding across the state that advanced energy companies are job creators and can play a significant role in Arkansas’s plans for growth,” Patterson said.

According to the report, Arkansas’s clean tech economy has grown largely on the strength of wind component manufacturing, biofuels production, green product manufacturing and an established energy efficiency sector.

The AAEA announced its formation as a trade association last month and will officially launch a membership drive beginning next month, Patterson said. The Primer is currently available on the organization’s Facebook page.

The Southern Growth study predicts that clean technology is an important opportunity for Arkansas to create jobs, improve global competitiveness of companies in the state, keep energy dollars in Arkansas and strengthen rural communities. This conclusion is based on four facts: 1) global energy demand is rising; 2) business leaders uniformly cite energy availability and costs as a core competitive factor; 3) Arkansas is a net energy importer; and 4) clean tech investments can and do occur in rural areas.

Click here to read the Arkansas Clean Technology Primer.

About Arkansas Advanced Energy Association

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) is dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy by expanding our energy workforce and manufacturing base through the increased development, manufacture, and utilization of advanced energy technologies. Like AAEA on Facebook.