One of the good news stories coming from the booming clean-tech sector is that it’s a job creation machine even as we go into a recession. Over coming months and years, with the presidential campaign followed by new leadership in the White House, this will become more of a driver for initiating clean energy projects now.
Part of the appeal of green-collar jobs is that they suit urbanized populations. With 80 percent of Americans living in cities, it’s great news that thereâ€™s an industry building (literally) to provide more urban jobs. Green-collar jobs build on existing skill sets, like those of tradesmen, or can be taught fairly quickly. Many of the renewable energy projects will be taking place in cities. As cities and states face growing unemployment numbers, workforce development in wind, solar and biofuel is becoming popular nationwide.
Solar energy manufacturing and installation jobs are spread across the U.S. at rates that show explosive growth in uptake. The states that should see the most growth in the solar sector are California, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington, mainly because they have state-sponsored incentives that are creating new markets for solar. Solar electric, solar hot water and utility-scale solar plants will account for the growth in new manufacturing, construction, and engineering jobs, and in the roofing, electrical, and plumbing trades.
Congress is currently considering extending a solar industry tax credit, which would substantially boost the current demand for solar and support the expansion of a green-collar workforce. The renewable energy tax credit is tool that is often used for industry development â€“ and the oil, gas and coal companies have benefited from them for decades. A new economic study issued by Navigant Consulting, Inc. shows that in this case, extending the current 30 percent investment tax credit for 8 years would result in 1.2 million new jobs by 2016. That means that by 2016, the solar energy industry would employ 440,000 people. Â The most growth would be seen in manufacturing and construction jobs. Other benefits would include an increase of $232 billion in domestic investment in the solar industry by 2016. This kind of investment will help produce more than 28 gigawatts of power by 2016 – enough to power 7 million homes. Check out the full study at SEIA.
We know there is a lot of hype about capital flows coming into the clean-tech sector. As weâ€™ve seen in recent days on Wall Street, financial flows can come and go. But good jobs and meaningful careers last and they are what comes out of the clean energy system. It is clear that a new, multi-billion dollar economic sector is emerging, bringing new opportunities in green construction, clean technology, and energy. It is a movement that deserves to be supported across the United States.
A campaign called Green for All has planned a National Day of Action on September 27th. They are asking people to take an “I’m Ready” photo to show the presidential candidates that America is ready for a green economy and green jobs now. On September 27th, thousands of people across the country will participate in their communities across the country. You can too!
Please join Green for All and Sungevity by taking a photo in your community. Sungevity staff will be participating in a number of events in California in Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco. We see it as part of our work not just to sell solar electric systems to homeowners, but also to facilitate the creation of many green-collar jobs that will lead us to a new, green economy â€“ one with the power to lift people out of poverty while respecting and repairing the environment.