Clean energy jobs grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. labor market in 2022, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), suggesting that the green energy transition is good for American job-seekers.
Among the biggest gainers of clean energy jobs were Texas and West Virginia — states where the fossil fuel industry has played a major role in the economy and the clean energy transition is politically controversial.
Why It Matters
The DOE report aims to kill two birds with one stone ahead of the 2024 elections: promoting the Biden administration’s clean energy program and touting its job creation credentials.
The Biden team is trying to make the case that its clean energy policy is good for jobs — including in states like Texas and West Virginia, where the fossil fuel industry has been a big employer. Clean energy policies have long been seen as a death knell for fossil fuel jobs.
President Joe Biden is also tying clean energy to national security, arguing that ramping up production of electric vehicles, batteries, and computer chips would bolster America’s ability to compete with China.
- Between 2021 and 2022, the number of jobs in the energy industry grew in the U.S. by 3.8 percent, while jobs in the clean energy sector increased by 3.9 percent, outpacing the 3.1 percent increase in overall employment, according to the DOE.
- More than 84 percent of jobs created in electric power generation last year sector were contributed by clean energy sources, including solar and wind.
- Solar energy contributed 12,000 new jobs in 2022, which is 3.7 percent higher than in 2021, and wind energy added 5,000 new jobs, which is 4.5 percent more than the previous year.
- The major states contributing to green job growth are California (13,000), West Virginia (7,000), and Texas (5,100).
Renewable energy is rapidly replacing fossil fuels in America and transforming the country’s power sector.
- During the first five months of 2023, electricity generated by solar and wind power outpaced the production of electricity by coal.
- Coal-generated electricity was 27 percent lower than in the same period in 2022.
The Road Ahead
Despite the increased adoption of clean energy, the sector still has a long way to go and tackle the following challenges:
The electricity grid needs to be quickly revamped to cater to power generated from renewable resources. This would require significant investments to improve and upgrade the existing grid infrastructure.
What to Watch Out For
Grid deficiencies may not be the only challenges to the clean energy transition. There’s also a mismatch between labor supply and demand.
Clean energy labor demand currently outpaces supply, as per data provided by Linkedin to the Wall Street Journal.
While job postings in the clean energy sector increased by 20 percent in 2022, green talent increased by only 8.4 percent. The lack of skilled labor could not only slow the transition toward cleaner sources of energy, but also raise the cost of electricity for American consumers.