If you think that the growth of renewable energy solely benefits our environment – you’re wrong. The massive growth that has taken place has not only brought on more fresh air, but also jobs – lots of them.
The renewable energy sector – which currently accounts for roughly 17 percent of the energy generated in the U.S. – employs over 450,000 employees between the solar and wind categories.
Even though growth in clean energy has grown year over year, solar saw a slight decline in job growth during 2017. Last year, job growth within the solar industry declined by 6 percent, while wind grew by 6 percent. Even though the solar market saw a slight decline last year, overall it still has had a major influence on job growth. According to a report from E2, “U.S. solar workforce increased 168% in the past seven years, from about 93,000 jobs in 2010.”
The growth of renewable energy, and more specifically solar, has led to a decline in coal manufacturing jobs. The 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) was released earlier this year. According to Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, the report clearly shows just how much the solar sector has grown. “The data in this report is the latest evidence that solar is the leading job creator in the clean energy sector. Solar provides more than twice as many jobs as the coal industry, almost five times as many jobs as nuclear power, and nearly an equal number of jobs as natural gas.”
Even though solar and wind have created more jobs than other sources, no sector had as big of an influence on job growth as the energy efficiency job market.
How energy efficiency technologies have sprouted massive job growth around the nation.
At least 2.2 million people currently work in the energy efficiency job market. The jobs in this sector primarily involve construction jobs for energy-efficient equipment, upgrading heating and cooling systems, installing LED lighting systems, and manufacturing ENERGY STAR appliances.
As the popularity and dependency on renewable energy continues to grow, so will the need for certified professionals that can fix and alleviate common daily problems.
With offshore wind turbine farms becoming more prominent and the vast rural areas of the country starting to develop more solar panel and wind turbine farms – energy efficiency jobs tied to construction accounted for 1.3 million of the 2.2 million energy efficiency jobs.
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The growth of jobs in the renewable energy market is multifaceted. As more people continue to join the energy efficiency job market, more renewable energy farms will be up and running. Meaning that renewable energy dependency will continue to grow – which means less dependence on fossil fuels.
One out of every six U.S. construction jobs has to do with energy efficiency. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more Americans that work in clean energy than in real estate, investment banking, and agriculture combined. There’s as many clean energy efficiency workers as there are school teachers in America, per the BLS.
Even though renewable energy has created many new jobs, growth has been sporadic across the nation. The top five states that have produced the most jobs in solar, wind, and energy efficiency are:
- California: Solar: 138,319 Wind: 5,275 Energy Efficiency: 310,433
- Texas: Solar: 11,608 Wind: 25,222 Energy Efficiency: 154,565
- Florida: Solar: 10,912 Wind: 4,056 Energy Efficiency: 112,620
- New York: Solar: 11,858 Wind: 3,214 Energy Efficiency: 117,339
- Illinois: Solar: 5,222 Wind: 8,633 Energy Efficiency: 86,916
With offshore development growing, states that border the ocean will continue to see their renewable energy job market grow. There are other states that have an even bigger solar job market than the ones listed above, but fall short when it comes to wind and energy efficiency jobs. For example, Michigan (5,532 solar jobs), Massachusetts (17,861 solar jobs), Ohio (8,092 solar jobs), and North Carolina (9,173 solar jobs) have produced more solar jobs than Illinois, but fall short in the other areas.
What continued technological advances in renewable energy means for its growing job market.
Continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions brings about expansion in the renewable energy sector. Our planet is currently going through an era of warming, as average temperatures continue to rise.
This means both global and national efforts to reduce carbon and methane emissions need to remain steadfast. We will need more wind turbine farms and solar panel farms. This means that more people will need to be hired in order to satisfy the increasing demand for renewable energy.
According to a report by CNBC, there are five jobs in high demand, due to the rise of the renewable energy sector:
- Environmental Engineer
- Wind Turbine Technician
- Environmental Scientist
- Recycling Worker
- Solar Photovoltaic Installers
These five positions cover the different growing areas of renewable energy. Scientists are needed in order to predict environmental trends, which allows engineers to make sure that the current systems in place are more than sufficient.
Wind turbine technicians and solar panel installers will always be in high demand – as long as wind and solar continue to grow in the U.S.
As a nation we need to continue to put our best foot forward when it comes to renewable energy growth. Currently solar and wind are growing at a rapid pace, with solar growing nine times faster than the overall U.S. economy, according to the Solar Foundation. With vast opportunities propping up around the nation, people like us can do more than just use renewable energy.
The renewable energy industry is filled with many opportunities. Whether you’re into the science behind the madness or you’d prefer a hands on approach, installing wind turbines – renewable energy has ample opportunities.
Furthermore, these job opportunities to grow by the day. Therefore, as our nation’s economy improves, renewable energy is getting one step closer to finally being the top resource used for energy generation, a win for the environment and the people who inhabit it.