Two reports concerning #energy jobs were made public over the last few weeks. Put together, these reports clearly show how policy changes affected the jobs in the energy industry in 2017. The best news comes from natural gas and #wind. The not so good news comes from the coal and #solar sectors. However, it’s not as bad as it sounds – at least not for the solar sector.
The United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER) is the first report which sheds light on the energy industry jobs. Released by NASEO, this report analyzes all the jobs in the energy industry, including solar, from all over the United States. The second report has been released by the #Solar Foundation, an association whose purpose is to track solar jobs across the United States using surveying methods.
The USEER report found that there have been 133,000 new jobs in the energy industry, including in the solar sector. When it comes to fuels and energy generation, the number of jobs in the fossil fuels category and the number of jobs in the green energy category (like solar) are approaching parity. According to the study, 1.1 million people in the US were employed in the gas, coal and oil sectors. Green energy like solar and wind, and the nuclear sector, employed more than 800,000 people.
Wind Blows Competition Away
Out of all these jobs, the wind sector managed to employ 107,000 workers in 2017, more than the solar field. Also, the number of jobs in the wind sector increased by 6% from 2016. Some of this growth, or roughly 6,000 jobs, has been attributed to increased battery storage necessities. In fact, jobs in the battery storage field increased by 12% from 2016. Future growth is expected, as battery technology is advancing quickly and the demand for storage capacity is huge.
Natural gas contributed 19,000 jobs and the coal sector remained steady at 92,000 jobs. The solar industry fares better than the coal industry, but is still behind the wind industry. Of course, the report does not count extraction jobs in the solar and wind industries. On the other hand, coal mining has seen a decrease in jobs, but it’s only a minor one: 2,000 jobs. Extraction jobs in the petroleum and natural gas industries account for the most jobs: over 510,000 for petroleum and more than 312,000 for natural gas. This is more than what the solar industry has, but not by much. And the difference between the solar industry and the other energy sectors is slowly diminishing.
For example, there have been just 144,000 jobs in the coal industry, while the solar industry employed more than 350,000 people in 2017. Of these 350,000, at least 250,000 people are spending most of their work time on solar. Solar energy firms are hiring more people every year and they are catching up with the fossil fuels industry.
The National Solar Jobs Census released by the Solar Foundation has similar findings. It reported over 250,000 jobs in the industry in 2017. There are some discrepancies, but they come from the way the two reports count the workers. While the USEER report counts anyone who spends any part of their time working on solar, the Solar Foundation only counts people who spend at least 50% of their time working on solar.
However, the bad news is that solar jobs were fewer in 2017 than they were in 2016. NASEO reported a 6 percent decrease in these jobs. The Solar Foundation reported a decrease of just 3.8%. It appears as though most of these lost jobs have been in the residential sector. However, losses at the utility level were also noteworthy. Many of these solar jobs have been lost because Tesla ended the door to door sales policy of SolarCity (which it bought in 2017) and because of the uncertainty regarding the tariffs announced by President Trump in 2017. We remind you that tariffs have been imposed on all cells and panels imported into the United States.
The good news is that Solar Foundation has announced that, while the growth will be slower, the industry will still see a 10% increase in jobs this year. Solar is still popular, and will continue to be – follow solar news to see evidence of this truth!