Clean energy creates more jobs than fossil fuel industry in the US, new reports show

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30 January 2017

LONDON: In the US electric power generation sector, the solar industry employed nearly 374,000 people in 2015-16 – double the number of jobs in oil, coal and gas combined, according to a new report from the US Department of Energy.

Traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors today employ approximately 6.4 million Americans. These sectors increased in 2016 by just under 5%, adding over 300,000 net new jobs – roughly 14% of all those created in the country.

A separate report by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) shows how sustainability now collectively accounts for an estimated 4.5 million jobs – up from 3.4 million in 2011 – with renewable energy now making up 64% of new electricity generation capacity installed in the US each year.

“These newly published statistics show once more that clean energy is good for the environment, businesses and the whole economy,” comments Amy Davidsen, Executive Director North America, The Climate Group.

“We recently published our RE100 Annual Report, which demonstrates how leading companies are going 100% renewable - not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes business sense. In the US alone, RE100 member companies source almost 7 terawatts/hours from renewable electricity – the highest amount in any country worldwide.

“We urge businesses, companies and states to accelerate this journey to deliver a healthier, more sustainable and prosperous future for all.”

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Electric power generation and fuels technologies sectors in the US employ almost 800,000 workers in low carbon emission generation technologies.
  • The solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016 (+374,000 jobs), while wind energy employment increased by 32% (+102,000 jobs).
  • Between September 2015 and September 2016, net generation from coal sources declined by 51% – while electricity generation from natural gas increased by 33% and solar by over 5,000% in the same period.
  • In the transmission, distribution and storage sector, almost a third of employees work in grid modernization or other utility-funded modernization projects.
  • The advanced vehicles industry employs 174,000 individuals, especially in the hybrid sub-sector.
  • There are now 769,000 renewable energy jobs – mainly in bioenergy – with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 6% since 2012. By comparison, jobs in fossil fuel extraction and support services had a negative rate of -4.25%.
  • California leads on solar and energy efficiency jobs, while Texas has the largest employment for the wind sector.
  • Solar and wind jobs have grown at rates of about 20% annually in recent years and are each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the US economy.

For more information, read the US Energy and Employment report by the US Department of Energy and the report “Now hiring: The growth of America’s clean energy & sustainability jobs” by EDF Climate Corps in partnership with Meister.

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