Nevada has extensive renewable energy and energy efficiency resources. Because of its renewable base and proximity to large energy markets, the state is on a path toward a successful 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 there. 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 2025. In addition to solar power, qualifying renewable energy resources include biomass, geothermal energy, wind, hydropower, energy recovery processes, and waste tires (using microwave reduction).
Nevada is home to a number of solar, geothermal and wind projects that are currently under construction, or are being planned. Those projects are concentrated between energy generation and energy efficiency projects, and will create clean energy jobs in addition to construction jobs. Growth of the clean energy sector requires 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 most 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, 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, with Elko County ranking second among all counties in the nation in the 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 dairy manufacturers are concentrated 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. 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, including potatoes, barley, winter and spring wheat, corn, oats, onions, garlic, and honey.
Food processing has maintained positive job growth in Nevada. Nevada's current food processing employment is primarily concentrated around bakeries, dairy-related manufacturing (ice cream and frozen desserts, fluid milk manufacturing), perishable prepared foods, frozen specialty foods, coffee and tea, and confectionery manufacturing from chocolate.