Continued Growth in the Clean Energy Job Sector

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According to a new report released by IRENA — Renewable Energy and Jobs — more than 8.1 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry which represents a five percent increase from last year.

Solar jobs expanded by 25 percent and accounted for one out of every 50 new jobs created in America last year. The fastest growing job in the U.S. over the next 10 years isn’t in healthcare or high tech, but in clean tech: wind turbine technician. And solar and wind power generation jobs (474,545 combined nationwide in the US) now outpace jobs in natural gas electric power generation (362,118) and coal power generation (160,119).

The growth in clean-energy jobs isn’t surprising when you consider that renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind) accounted for nearly 15 percent of domestic utility-scale electrical generation last year, up considerably from just 10.4 percent in 2010. An assessment by the Sun Day campaign, which reports regularly on U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, finds that “electrical output by utility-scale plus distributed solar grew by 44 percent in 2016 compared to 2015. By comparison, electrical generation by coal dropped by 8.3 percent and that from petroleum liquids and coke plummeted by 15.4 percent. Solar-generated electricity is now more than double that from petroleum sources.”

According to the group’s assessment of the DOE data, the clean energy sector now supports:

  • Nearly 2 million workers making buildings, appliances, and other products more energy efficient
  • More than 600,000 workers involved with clean power generation, including from such sources as biomass, biogas, fuel cells, geothermal, hydropower, solar, waste-to-energy, and wind
  • 100,000 workers in advanced grid technologies, including energy storage, and another 100,000 workers in biofuels
  • 200,000 jobs in advanced transportation, including hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles.

Overall, there is no question about the importance of clean energy as a steady job provider in the US. The renewable energy sector is creating stable and future oriented employment opportunities despite recent political developments.

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