Solar Energy May Actually be Better for US Economy

Fagjun | Published 2017-06-13 18:10

Photo by Karsten Wurth

You may have heard that solar energy and other forms of clean energy will negatively impact the US economy. President Donald Trump, for example, justified withdrawing the US from the Paris climate deal by saying that he needed to protect the jobs that the coal industry generates.

However, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has reported that in 2016, solar employed more people than the coal, gas, and oil industries combined. The report says that 6.4 million Americans work in the energy industry. This includes gas station workers and retail jobs, not just the jobs involved in extraction. Meanwhile, jobs in the solar industry has grown 25% since 2015, growing by an additional 73,615 jobs. Over 373,000 Americans worked in the solar industry in the past year.

The coal industry, on the other hand, has been in decline since 2012 due to competition from the clean energy industry. About 160,000 Americans worked in the coal industry, with 54,000 of this number in mining.

What's more, the clean energy industry is set grow even more this year. The DOE's Annual National Energy Employment Analysis predicts that energy efficiency employers will have the highest growth rate this year. The prediction is that there will be 200,000 new jobs in the clean energy sector this year. However, the traditional energy industry faces the possibility of a 3% decline this year.

Solar Energy and the Economy

Of course, things aren't as simple as this. The coal, gas, and oil industries are more prevalent in some states, just as clean energy has a foothold in other states. For example, in Wyoming, 3% of workers are in the coal industry. 2% of workers in Virginia are in the coal industry as well.

Clean energy is more prevalent in California, with 0.84% of the state's workers in solar energy. The solar industry is also more prevalent in Nevada, Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Wind energy, meanwhile, has a foothold in the Midwest and the Great Plains.

Thus, it may be that holding on to traditional energy production—extracting coal, gas, and oil—isn't the best for the US economy. It may also be that other countries are leaning more towards growing the clean energy industry. Solar energy, alongside wind and other forms of clean energy, are likely to be the future of the world's various economies.

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