The green energy sector has lost nearly 600,000 jobs in March and April, according to a report by BW Research Partnership. That’s 17% of the sector’s workforce. This is of course a result of stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic, which halts both production and residential and commercial installation.
Lost green energy jobs
BW Research expects 850,000 job losses by the end of June. That’s about 25% of all clean energy jobs. The clean energy industry employed more than 3.4 million Americans last year — triple the number of people employed in the fossil fuel industry.
The nearly 600,000 jobs lost to date is more than double the number the sector has created since 2017, the report said, so it’s a big blow.
However, it’s not hopeless. (For example, just look at Poland above, and the fact that the US’ largest solar farm has just been approved.)
Ravi Manghani, global head of solar at Wood Mackenzie, a research and consulting company based in the UK, said of the sector’s outlook:
It might lose the edge a teeny bit, but for the most part it’s still going to be an economically viable proposition.
According to the US Department of Labor, total US unemployment claims have reached 33.5 million since mid-March. And that’s claims — undoubtedly, there are people who are unemployed who have yet to file. So the green energy sector’s 594,347 lost jobs make up just a small slice of the unemployed pie.
However, the fossil-fuel industry makes up an even smaller slice. So why is the Trump administration trying to bail out fossil fuels yet giving no support to clean energy, who employs even more workers? Green energy needs to be included in federal aid, or more jobs will be lost.
Even in good times, renewable developers often don’t owe enough in tax to the federal government to make green energy tax credits worthwhile, so they partner with big investors that can offset their own own taxes. When the economy slumps, however, investors don’t owe as much tax — and so are unwilling to participate. The 2009 [Obama-era Recovery Act] bypassed this problem by turning those tax credits into grants. Doing that now… could get many people back to work sooner.
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