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Chow writes: "U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report."

Vivint Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in Mission Viejo, California, October 25, 2013. (photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
Vivint Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in Mission Viejo, California, October 25, 2013. (photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

19 January 17


.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation's job growth.

"This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy," said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. "Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016."

The solar industry is particularly shining bright.

"Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector," the report, released on Jan. 13, states. "This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity." Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016.

According to the report, solar—both photovoltaic and concentrated—employed almost 374,000 workers in 2016, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuels, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment, or 187,117 workers across coal, oil and natural gas generation technologies.

Wind generation is seeing growth in employment with a 32 percent increase since 2015. The wind industry provides the third largest share of Electric Power Generation employment with 102,000 workers at wind firms across the nation.

(photo: EcoWatch)

The reason behind this growth in the solar sector is due to the high capacity additions in both distributed and utility-scale photovoltaic solar, the report said. In fact, construction and installation projects represented the largest share of solar jobs, with almost four in ten workers doing this kind of work, followed by workers in solar wholesale trade, manufacturing and professional services.

In a sign of promise for the booming industry, solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7 percent this year.

Solar is becoming the cheapest form of electricity production in the world, according to statistics from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last year was the first time that the renewable energy technology out-performed fossil fuels on a large scale. your social media marketing partner


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+15 # DongiC 2017-01-19 17:16
Looks like renewables are going to win the economic battle with coal, natural gas, and oil. Just in time too.
+12 # ronnewmexico 2017-01-19 19:31
Coal per example employes a very small number of peoples. Coal itself not nat gas oil and all the rest. However the republicans court this very small group at every extend and disadvantage the much larger group solar.

Jobs jobs jobs but the only jobs wer hear about are coal mining jobs.
Donations again are the only explainable rational for this preference.

A tadt around this political boondoggle is to have candidates to propose solar technology plants being located in prior coal mining states. To devolve the resistance to solar. This may be managed by federal incentives tied into job training and relocations programs already present..
-16 # brycenuc 2017-01-19 23:56
If added employment is the goal we can pay people to dig holes and fill them up again.
Energy is the currency of economy and civilization and the cheaper energy is the more multiplication of our own bodily energy is what we get, and the greater increase in our economy and civilization we get. When we increase the costs of energy, like taxing fossil fuels, we impair our economy and we impose a regressive cost burden which hits the poorest among us the worst. Fossil fuels still provide 80% of our energy
+9 # Texas Aggie 2017-01-20 09:10
You fail to note that renewable energy is now as cheap or cheaper than fossil fuel. You also neglect to mention that government subsidies to fossil fuels far outstrips subsidies to renewable energy. By removing subsidies to both camps, renewable would be in even better shape economically than fossil fuels.

And when was the last time a solar panel or a windmill caused an earthquake or a sinkhole? And a solar spill is usually referred to as a nice day, not an ecological disaster.
-9 # MidwestTom 2017-01-20 07:37
Read this the above carefully, the solar employment is in construction of solar systems; once operational very few people are needed. In other forms of energy the jobs of coal miners and power plant workers are permanent. I am sure that if comparing permanent jobs solar will employ the least.
+8 # Texas Aggie 2017-01-20 08:49
But you are neglecting the people making solar panels. How many people are making mining equipment?

Also, you are neglecting that eventually the panels and other equipment associated with wind mills are going to need replacement. As the market gets saturated, the earlier panels and wind mills will becoming obsolete.

You need to look into the future, not just at what is happening right now.
+7 # Texas Aggie 2017-01-20 08:53
This article makes the mistake of assuming that politicians care about whether people have jobs. It should be obvious that their main concern is the financial well-being of the plutocrats that are making a killing off of fossil fuels. These people stand to lose a bundle if renewable energy becomes ubiquitous, so the politicians are doing everything possible to prevent that. People working at making and installing solar panels and windmills are of no importance whatsoever.
+1 # Karlus58 2017-01-20 11:04
Permanent you say? Tell that to those now without the job.
+2 # they said what? 2017-01-20 09:47
The report (but not this article) also mentions energy efficiency:
"The 2017 USEER also shows that 2.2 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in the design, installation, and manufacture of Energy Efficiency products and services, adding
133,000 jobs in 2016. (Energy Efficiency employment is defined as the production or installation of energy efficiency products certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program or installed pursuant to the ENERGY STAR® program guidelines or supporting services thereof). Almost 1.4 million Energy Efficiency jobs are in the construction industry. In addition, construction firms involved in the Energy Efficiency sector have experienced an increase in the percentage of their workers who spend at least 50% of their time on Energy Efficiency-rela ted work, rising from 64.8 percent in 2015 to 74.0 percent in 2016. Finally, an improved USEER survey methodology identified almost 290,000 manufacturing jobs, producing Energy Star® certified products and energy efficient building materials in the United States."

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