Last week the US solar industry revealed that it had its biggest year ever in 2016, installing 14.8 gigawatts of new solar power. At the same time it became more apparent that clean energy contributed highly to the US economy and created and employs more than most other sectors of the US economy, even as President Trump’s actions could decimate the renewable energy industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it’s creating.
Last year the US solar industry installed a total of 14.8 gigawatts of new solar power. That’s according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research last week. The report found that the amount was nearly double the amount of solar power installed in 2015. Over the next fives years the amount installed is expected to triple, the report found.
The amount of revenue generated by the clean energy industries in the US reached $200 billion in revenues in 2016. That’s according to the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) in its Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report, which was prepared by Navigant Consulting. The report also found that solar power and building efficiency were key drivers in growth last year, helping the industries grow even as biofuels declined.
Another jobs driver in the renewable energy industries was the wind industry. The American Wind Energy Association reported last week that it now employs more than 102,500 people in direct wind power jobs. Under current conditions that number will grow to roughly 250,000 jobs by the end of 2020, the industry association said.
All of this positive news for the renewable energy industry—and the US’ economy and workers—comes against a backdrop of President Trump’s efforts to shore up the fossil fuel industry by cutting regulations. In the latest such effort, he will appoint numerous nominees to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which permits oil and gas pipelines as well as electric transmission lines. Already 135 organizations are calling on the Senate to rebuke his nominees to run the commission.
While Trump may make it harder for renewables to compete, states and companies, the types of entities that Trump has said he wants to support, are showing they are going for more renewable energy. For instance, in Trump’s home state of New York, the state has been aggressively moving forward on solar power and rooftop solar. Most recently it announced it’s moving forward with creating value of solar and distrubted resource rates, which would replace net-metering in the state by fully accounting for the value of solar power.
Two of New York’s neighbors, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, also are significantly boosting their solar and renewable energy efforts. Pennsylvania is planning on boosting its solar power use to 10 percent of its energy use in the coming years. Meanwhile, Rhode Island introduced a plan to boost its renewables use by a full 1,000 percent by 2020.
Apple, like many large tech companies, is now 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Unlike some other companies it’s also working to ensure that all of its suppliers are using 100 precent renewable energy. To that end it last week announced that its supplier Ibiden, is the first Japanese company to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.Tweet