North Carolina’s clean energy industry by the numbers: at least 570 companies employing more than 18,000 workers and 2013 revenue topping $3.5 billion. Those job numbers are up 20 percent.

And job growth is expected to continue in 2014.

“Between 64% and 68% of firms involved in Power Generation, Research and Development, and Manufacturing and Production expect to add jobs in 2014,” says a new report.

The figures come from the 2013 North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Sensus, a report that measures the impact of the clean energy industry in the state’s economy. The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, or NCSEA, has done the annual census since 2008.

By revenue, solar energy is the biggest business sector in North Carolina accounting for $1.1 billion in revenue last year. By employment, smart grid is the biggest sector in the state employing 4,177 workers.

The census responses don’t tell the full story of North Carolina’s cleantech economy. NCSEA says that although the survey represents 570 responses, the state has about 1,100 clean energy firms.

Where the Jobs Are

Most of the cleantech industry is located in the Research Triangle area, but each economic development zone across the state does have some cleantech presence:

  • RTP: 218 firms, 10,082 jobs
  • Charlotte: 127 firms, 2,284 jobs
  • Advantage West: 93 firms, 1,460 jobs
  • Piedmont/Triad: 87 firms, 490 jobs
  • Southeast: 54 firms, 293 jobs
  • Northeast: 22 firms, 1,446 jobs
  • East: 19 firms, 139 jobs

Education, services and consulting firms lead the way in employment and revenues, followed by research and development and firms in new energy efficient design and construction. According to the report, the greatest proportional increase in clean energy jobs is expected in three activities: manufacturing and production; research and development; and power generation.

NCSEA says all sectors expect to be adding jobs in 2014.

Challenges, Opportunities

The clean energy sector does face challenges. Last summer the N.C. Biofuels Center closed in the wake of legislative budget cuts. More recently,. Duke Energy has stated it wants to pay less for the power it buys from rooftop solar panels on homes and businesses. The lower price awaits a decision by state utilities regulators.

But there clean energy investments are still emerging.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced a $140 million manufacturing innovation institute bringing industry and academia together to pursue development of the next-generation of power electronics. N.C. State University will lead six university partners; among the 18 private-sector participants is Swiss power technologies company ABB (NYSE:ABB), which operates its North American headquarters in Cary and has research operations on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

“The numbers in this year’s Census leave no doubt that the clean energy industry is continuing to emerge as a valuable contributor to the state’s economy,” NCSEA Executive Director Ivan Urlaub said in a statement. “But growth like this doesn’t happen by accident or chance. It is the result of entrepreneurs, investors and workers receiving a clear message that North Carolina is ‘open for business,’ and that only comes about through good clean energy policy.”