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I Can Have a Green Job?

Stalin is purported to have said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." It's kind of like that (but in a positive sense) with jobs…one is a lifeline; a million is a statistic. So what can we say about 6.5 million jobs, in the worldwide renewable energy industry, no less? Can I at least get a "Woo hoo!"?

Green Blog and Sustainable Business both have excellent summaries of the recent Renewable Energy and Jobs - Annual Review 2014, published for the second year by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Renewable Energy Employment by Technology
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Some highlights:

  • In 2013 there were 6.5 million people employed worldwide in renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy jobs are growing – up 14% from the 2012 IRENA survey.
  • The largest employment is in solar (2.3 million), biofuels (1.4 million), wind (800,000), biomass (800,000) and biogas (300,000) technology.

If there is a bit of bad news amidst all this good, it's that the U.S. is not the world leader in renewable energy jobs—thanks, 113th Congress; it's no wonder you have the lowest approval rating of any Congress since tracking was initiated in 1974. The U.S. ranks third, behind China and Brazil(!).

Green Blog reports, "The job growth is being driven largely thanks to the rapid decrease in the price of solar photovoltaics in recent years. Between 2011 and 2013, the installations of solar photovoltaics in China alone increased five-fold."

The promising future of solar power is, well, nothing less than stellar. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – not exactly known for green hyperbole – solar energy could become the dominant source of generated electricity worldwide as early as 2050 if the right policies are put in place. (Are you listening, Congress?)

Unlike Congress, some parts of our federal government are doing their part: According to Environmental Protection, "EPA has announced $3.6 million in environmental job training grants as part of the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program…. The program will train graduates and give them the skills needed to secure a full-time, sustainable job in various areas of the environmental field with an average hourly starting wage of $14."

We're doing our part as well: Ecotech Institute is the first and only college entirely focused on preparing graduates for careers in the rapidly-growing fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
As a footnote, according to Sustainable Business, "Last year, IRENA made available the first world atlas on renewable energy, which maps every country's potential and where it's located; the most cost-effective combination of technologies; and whether the market is large enough to create a supply chain."

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability "story teller." In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.