New report finds WV lagging in clean energy jobs, but Sparkz factory site announcement and budget package could help

The following article was published by Charleston Gazette-Mail on August 3, 2022.

Congress is preparing to vote on a sweeping spending package designed to accelerate the nation’s transition to and create thousands of jobs in clean energy. A new report suggests that West Virginia has a lot of ground to make up in that category. The report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, a nonpartisan group of business leaders and investors, finds that West Virginia had the third-lowest share of its workforce employed in clean energy in 2021.

West Virginia’s clip of 1.4% was higher than only New Jersey and Oklahoma, according to the seventh annual Clean Jobs America report produced by Environmental Entrepreneurs based on the U.S. Energy and Employment Jobs Report. West Virginia had 9,540 clean energy jobs, more than only three other states (North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska).

West Virginia should learn soon by the end of next month where an influx of at least 350 clean energy jobs eagerly anticipated by the White House and West Virginia leaders will be located in the state. Sparkz, a California-based battery supply startup, will announce the site of its West Virginia plant by the end of September, company spokesman Paul Tencher told the Gazette-Mail Tuesday. Sparkz announced in March that the company would build a battery plant in an unspecified location in West Virginia that would employ at least 350 people.

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Founder & CEO

Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra

Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra is the founder and CEO of Sparkz—the battery start-up reinventing the energy supply chain.


Malhotra has been a leader in the energy sector for nearly three decades as a founder, investor and executive. Most recently, he served as the inaugural director for the Energy Investor Center at the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), serving under both Democratic and Republican administrations.


At DOE, Malhotra led the Obama Administration’s initiative to boost public-private partnerships to accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed in national research centers like Oak Ridge National Labs.


Malhotra was recruited to the Department of Energy after a successful exit of Oorja Protonics—the world leader in methanol fuel cells—which he founded and led as CEO for 10 years. Oorja raised $50 Million in equity financing from leading VCs such as Sequoia, DAG Ventures, Artis Capital and others during his tenure. He boosted Oorja’s revenue and profitability growth, while expanding operations globally in Japan, China, South Africa, Mexico, and India.


Oorja was acquired in 2014 by the Private Equity firm MinXing Growth Fund.


As an investor and consultant, Malhotra has worked at leading venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers as an advisor on clean energy and advanced materials.


Earlier in his career, Malhotra led the engineering and product development team at H Power, a pioneer in hydrogen fuel cells. As part of the management team, he managed the successful IPO, which raised more than $100 million in August 2000.


He began his career as a post-doctoral fellow at the renowned Lawrence Berkeley National Labs on electrochemical storage systems. Dr. Malhotra has authored seven patents and more than 40 publications in various fields of energy storage technology and materials. He holds a PhD in chemical engineering and an M.B.A from University of Iowa.