2016 has been a big year for renewable energy. Jobs in the field are on the rise, the price of clean energy technology is continuing to drop, and more and more people — both at the residential and corporate level — are adopting renewable energy. Here are five reasons to be hopeful about the new energy economy.
Wind Technician Becomes Fastest Growing Occupation
In March, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that wind turbine service technician had become the fastest growing occupation in the country, projected to grow 108 percent by 2024. This is unsurprising when you consider that over 20 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity are now under construction or in advanced development, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2016 Market Report.
Solar Technician Employment is on the Rise, Too
According to the Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census, the solar industry employed approximately 208,859 solar employees as of November, 2015. That number is expected to grow nearly 15 percent by the end of 2016, reaching a total of 239,625 solar workers. Additionally, the census reported that wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
U.S. Hits Milestone of 1 Million Solar Installs
In May, the U.S. solar energy industry reached an amazing milestone when the adoption of solar power in America reached a new height of 1 million installations nationwide. The Solar Energy Industries Association projects that the United States will reach 2 million installations by 2018, and 3 million the following year.
Offshore Wind Brings New Opportunities
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently reported that Global offshore wind capacity could leap from 13 gigawatts (GW) in 2015 to 400 GW in 2045. Advances in technology have helped to cut costs and drive market expansion for wind power, with onshore wind reaching cost competitiveness with “conventional” generation technologies. The United States took its first steps toward embracing offshore technology with the installation of the 30 megawatt, five turbine Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.
Renewable Energy Prices Keep Dropping
According to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), over the next five years, wind generation costs are projected to decrease 10 percent, on average, while solar costs will fall 25 percent. Based on these price projections, the IEA expects renewables to be the largest source of new power capacity additions globally through 2020.