Clean Energy Jobs actually leading the way

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the supposed failure of green jobs in America – the New York Times ran a story that all but declared green jobs dead on arrival – but these stories by and large aren’t telling the whole story: clean energy jobs are growing, and they are growing faster than their dirty energy counterparts.

More than 2.7 million people in America are employed in the “clean economy” – wind and solar energy production, and other jobs that directly contribute goods and services with an environmental benefit.  That is hardly a drop in the bucket in a nation of 300 million, especially as many of these jobs are new, and part of a growing market.

Moreover, clean energy is contributing more and more to the nation’s energy grid – supplying Texas with much needed electricity during strong winter storms and the record heat waves this summer.  According to Climatewire (sub. req’d.), coastal wind farms kept the state’s lights on during the heat waves, while the turbines in the western plains kept furnaces humming during the winter cold snaps. 

Increasing clean energy use – like in California, where 33% of the state’s energy must be from renewable sources – is also driving the costs down.  A surge in photovoltaic solar cell production (photovoltaic or PV turns light from the sun directly into electricity) has dropped prices so dramatically that a Mojave Desert solar array will include at least 500 megawatts of PV-produced electricity – up from zero when the project was first announced (the project was slated to use solar thermal power generation, which involves aiming mirrors at a boiler that drives a generator).

The prospects for clean energy keep improving as well – new wind, solar and other renewable technology classes at a school in Ingleside, Texas, helps students get 2-year degrees in wind and solar technology.  The school, the Texas State Technical College Renewable Energy Education Center, boasts a job placement rate of more than 90% - not a shabby figure in today’s economy.  Texas looks to continue to be a wind energy leader, with the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. projected to come online in 2011, even before the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts

Clean energy jobs might not have had the meteoric rise that some people had hoped, but with national unemployment numbers hovering around 9% (and in some states much higher), clean energy is leading the way.