This is the second blog in our Clean Energy Intersections Series, where we explore how renewable energy has the power to address and alleviate many social and environmental concerns, in addition to its power as a worldwide economic force.
Wind and solar sectors saw intrepid growth in 2016. A record 14.6 GW of solar was installed in the U.S. last year, making it the largest source of new electric capacity for the first time in history. American wind also surpassed the 82,000 MW mark to become the country’s largest renewable resource by installed generating capacity. Global wind installations are now on the brink of hitting an impressive 500 GW.
What’s enabling this incredible renewables revolution? It’s the people. And the thousands of clean energy jobs in these sectors rooted in propelling our world toward a more sustainable future.
The proof is in the numbers:
The renewable energy industry is currently responsible for more than 8 million jobs worldwide, and steady growth is projected to continue. In the U.S., Advanced Energy Economics (AEE) recently announced that national clean energy jobs (including gas & nuclear) just hit 3 million.
Solar employment expanded 24.5% in the U.S. from 300,192 jobs in 2015 to 373,807 jobs in 2016. This growth marks the fourth consecutive year that solar jobs grew by 20% or more. In fact, the solar industry created one out of every 50 jobs — or 2% of all new jobs — in the U.S. last year.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2017 Energy and Employment Report
Wind is equally driving economic development and now employs over 100,000 people countrywide. Wind jobs grew 32% last year from 77,088 to 101,738. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported wind turbine technician as the fastest-growing job category with a 108% change in employment between 2014-24. For context, occupational therapist had the second highest growth rate at 43%. As wind installations show no signs of slowing down, the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that this sector could support 380,000 national jobs by 2030.
Wind jobs have additional value, as they are being created in the communities that need them the most. The wind industry employs American veterans at a rate 50% higher than the national average. Rust Belt counties are also receiving the economic stimulus they need. Over 99% of wind farms are constructed in rural locations – many of which fall under the poverty line and are hungry for new jobs. With wind jobs spanning all 50 states, this increased demand for new manufacturing is supporting remote areas and the economies of states that don’t even have producing farms.
Collectively, it is evident that renewables are impacting job markets in a major way. Both clean energy jobs are not only providing new opportunity and security for thousands of people but also shifting our grid to a more independent, low-carbon system.
Reach out to our strategic renewables team to learn how a comprehensive energy strategy can drive value and benefit your organization.
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