Clean energy is growing the economy and driving down emissions

The economic expansion since 2009 is historic not just for its duration, but for the role that America’s energy sector has played in creating jobs and reducing carbon emissions. Over the past 12 months this trend has solidified and brought our domestic energy sector to its cleanest place in history.
While the energy jobs of our forefathers still exist, the most dynamic growth is now occurring in clean energy generation, according to the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, released this week. This includes natural gas, solar, wind, hydropower, biofuels, and waste-to-energy — and energy efficiency. Together, these sectors support 3 million jobs nationwide.
The strength of job creation in clean energy generation comes partly from the wide-ranging skill base required to convert the power of the sun, wind, water, and waste into kilowatts needed to power our homes. Clean energy production creates jobs at many stages in the process — not just manufacturing. Additional jobs can be found in system design, project development, installation, operation and management — and the information technology that ties it all together.
The development of clean energy generation projects also drives jobs for other industries that tend to be inherently local. For example, an effective natural gas plant or commercial-scale solar, wind, or hydropower project is a major undertaking requiring steel infrastructure, landscaping, civil engineering and substantial manpower to lay transmission lines or pipelines. Biomass projects require close coordination with local paper companies and foresters. Even rooftop solar projects require highly skilled labor.
While the job creation numbers are increasing year over year, they are actually dwarfed by the number of jobs held by people focused on the efficient use of electricity in home, commercial and industrial applications. Energy efficiency jobs reached nearly 2.2 million in 2016, up from 1.9 million the year before. Nearly two-thirds of these jobs are in construction and are characterized by their high-skill and transferability.
All of these jobs in efficiency mean that Americans are more productive than ever with our nation’s energy resources. The energy productivity of the U.S. economy has grown 17.3 percent since 2008. In short, the U.S. economy can continue to expand as total energy consumption rates decline. This is due to the fact that clean energy generation technologies are more cost effective than ever before, and saving energy means saving money — a concept universally understood by businesses large and small, and at the kitchen table.