Green energy not yet a big job generator

January 04, 2013

Renewable energy is a fast growing sector of the American power economy. But it creates few jobs compared to the fossil fuel industry.

With gas prices spiking, energy policy is a big election-year talking point. It might surprise you that renewable energy alternatives generate interest and enthusiasm, but comparatively few jobs. From 2003 to 2010, the rate of annual job growth in renewable energy fields was 3.1 percent. Clean energy ventures – hydro power, wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, and more – employed 138,364 people in 2010, compared to 1.3 million working in the oil, natural gas, and coal industries.

Different categories within the green energy sector showed different job growth rates, of course. One healthy one was solar thermal, with 18.4 percent annual job growth. Click on today’s infographic to see it full size, check out job growth in several more categories – and learn which renewable energy category actually saw job loss.

See “What Do Others Say?” for more about why renewables haven’t taken the market by storm. Then give us your own ideas in our daily discussion, below. If the free market seems reluctant to jump into an energy revolution, should policymakers do anything?