Nevada has extensive renewable energy and energy efficiency resources and, because of its renewable base and its proximity to large energy markets, the state is on a successful path toward a clean energy economy.
Nevada's renewable resources are balanced between the north and south. Northern Nevada is the established headquarters of geothermal resources in the U.S., with 9 of the 11 top geothermal firms in the U.S. located in Nevada. In the U.S., Nevada is second only to California in installed geothermal capacity. Southern Nevada has higher solar and hydropower resources.
Nevada's demand for renewable energy has been driven by the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires that Nevada utilities get 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by the by 2025. In addition to solar, qualifying renewable energy resources include biomass, geothermal energy, wind, certain hydropower, energy recovery processes, and waste tires (using microwave reduction).
Nevada is home to a number of solar projects, geothermal and wind projects that are currently under construction, or planned. Those projects are concentrated between energy generation and energy efficiency projects, and will create clean energy jobs as well as construction jobs for Nevada. Growth of the clean energy sector requires support in the development of an available skilled workforce through relevant training and other market driven strategies.
Additionally, Nevada is a state of great agricultural possibilities. Agriculture is one of Nevada's important economic drivers, contributing significantly not only to the economic development of rural communities, but also to the State as a whole. Supporting nearly 67,000 jobs on and off the farm, Nevada agriculture generated more than 5.3 billion dollars in 2010 and over $100 million annually in exports.
Range livestock production is predominant in Nevada with well over half of the farms producing cattle or sheep. The highest concentration of cattle is in the northern part of the state. Cow-calf operations are the most common and leading operations, with Elko County ranking second among all counties in the nation in number of beef cows. Northern Nevada is also home to the vast majority of sheep ranches. Nevada's ranches are few in number, but they rank third in the nation in size, averaging 3,500 acres.
Dairying is a growing industry in the state, as is the manufacture of dairy products. The greatest number of dairy operations are in Northern Nevada, but the largest dairies are in the South. The majority of manufacturers are concentrated relatively near the large market centers of Reno and Las Vegas.
Nevada's high desert climate is very well suited to the production of high quality alfalfa hay and alfalfa accounts for over half of the total value of crops produced in the state. Much of the alfalfa is marketed to dairies in California and a significant quantity is exported overseas. A variety of other high value crops are produced in Nevada, and they include potatoes, barley, winter and spring wheat, corn, oats, onions, garlic and honey.
Food processing has maintained positive job growth trends in Nevada. Nevada's current food processing employment is primarily in segments related to bakeries, dairy-related manufacturing (ice cream and frozen desserts, fluid milk manufacturing), perishable prepared foods and frozen specialty foods, coffee and tea manufacturing, and confectionery manufacturing from chocolate.