Solar energy jobs are growing 12 times faster than the US economy
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Those impressive gains stand in contrast to Donald Trump's stance on energy. The president has consistently championed eliminating environmental regulations and increasing fossil fuel production as a promising way to bring jobs to America."Trump's current approach is basically ignoring an entire industry that has grown up over the last 10 years or so and is quite robust," Liz Delaney, program director at EDF Climate Corps, tells Business Insider.
"Our findings would lead us to believe that the right place to invest dollars are in renewable energy rather than fossil fuels," Delaney says. "These jobs are widely geographically distributed, they're high paying, they apply to both manufacturing and professional workers, and there are a lot of them."
Delaney says one of the most surprising findings of the EDF report is that 70% of the 2.2 million Americans who work in jobs related to energy efficiency are employed by companies with 10 employees or less."What we're talking about here are American small businesses," she says, adding that because many sustainability jobs involve installation, maintenance and construction, they're harder to outsource.
Although federal subsidies and tax credits have helped foster the growth of solar and wind power in the US - thereby adding jobs in those industries - much of the trend is due to the falling prices of both technologies. The EDF's report suggests the cost of production for solar PV panels dropped 72% between 2010 and 2015, making solar power much more competitive in the energy market. Solar deployment, consequently, has expanded tenfold since 2010, from 876 to 10,727 megawatts installed annually.
It's possible that Trump's promises to scale back environmental regulation and cut research in renewables might add new fossil fuel industry jobs and even curtain growth in the sustainability sector, but market forces suggest it would be very difficult to stop the overall trend towards renewables. The DOE's Energy and Employment Report predicts that energy efficiency employment will have a 9% growth rate over the next 12 months - higher than any other energy sector."I think it's really all about speed of transition," Delaney says. "I think the transition will continue, but there's a role that the federal government can play in supporting that, which is significant."
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