Last week Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) released a report entitled “Clean Jobs America,” a comprehensive analysis of clean energy and clean transportation jobs in the United States. The study found that over 2.5 million Americans are now employed in the clean energy sector, with energy efficiency accounting for nearly three out of every four clean energy jobs. Read on for a sector-by-sector breakdown of the employment numbers and analysis of the effect of recent international, federal and state policies on the clean energy economy.
Over the past decade, clean energy has created jobs and driven economic growth across the country. As E2’s executive director Bob Keefe explained, “In a short amount of time, clean energy has become a huge part of our workforce and our economy. Smart policies helped jump-start this industry, and smart policies will keep these made-in-America jobs growing – and help our environment along the way.”
A closer examination of the clean energy economy shows that the energy efficiency sector employed 1.9 million Americans, helping to increase energy productivity by 13 percent since 2007. Renewable energy accounted for 414,000 clean energy jobs, with solar and wind employing 300,000 and 77,000 Americans, respectively. The U.S. solar industry alone added 115,000 in the last five years, growing 20 percent for three consecutive years. And fueled by the 54.5 miles per gallon fuel efficiency standard finalized in 2012, the advanced vehicles sector employed 170,000 people in 2015.
Clean energy is also expecting to see a flurry of activity following a number of policies finalized in 2015. The Solar Energy Industries Association found that the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) extension will lead to an additional 72 GW of installed solar capacity in the next 5 years, compared to the current 25 GW, and the creation of 220,000 new solar jobs. Extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) allows for the long-term certainty needed to invest in new wind projects, with the expectation that 1,100 workers will be needed over the lifetime of a typical 250 MW wind farm. Elsewhere, the Paris climate summit resulted in the investment of more than $2 billion in private capital to invest in clean energy R&D. Finally, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan, the policy continues to move forward in a number of states where governors recognize the economic benefits of the clean energy.