A great deal of misinformation is floating about regarding just how important leading-edge energy technologies are to our economy.
The fact is, a new energy infrastructure has emerged in the United States, and the U.S. is now, by every international measure, the world leader in energy innovation. That means recently developed and currently emerging technologies are—and will continue to be—extremely important.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, jobs in the renewable energy sector—which includes solar and wind technologies, plus hydrogen, biofuel, fuel cells, and energy-conserving technologies—grew by 18 percent between the second quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. Renewable energy technologies are now providing direct employment for 3.38 million Americans (compared to the fossil fuel industry, which provides jobs for 2.89 million people).
Even more notable, according to the DOE, the renewable energy industry is adding jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy even as the fossil fuel industry is losing jobs (in the years between 2012 and 2015, that industry experienced a job reduction of 4.5 percent).
The solar workforce increased by 25 percent last year and wind employment increased by 32 percent. As of 2016, about 374,000 worked for solar firms and 102,000 had jobs at wind firms across the country. And the financial commitment is huge: the wind industry’s investment in wind projects in recent years amounts to $143 billion, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Virtually all experts are predicting these technologies will continue to grow—expanding their bases and employing more people—as each becomes more affordable and accessible.
All this growth in innovative clean energy fields during the last 10 to 15 years has resulted in 41 states now having more jobs in renewable energy technologies than in fossil fuels.
As attention in Washington focuses now on stimulating job creation and growth in the fossil fuel industries, those efforts should not come at the expense of the momentum that has been building in recent years in the energy growth areas.
Four of the budget bills introduced in the past few weeks Congress — House bill H.R. 3266 and Senate bill S. 1609 which set forth the 2018 fiscal year budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and H.R. 3268 and S. 1603 which detail the FY2018 budget for the DOE – propose the elimination of all programs supporting renewable energy and energy innovation.
We at Renewable Energy Consulting Services (RECS) believe that would be an unfortunate development for the well-being of our planet and our national economy.