What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• The clean energy industry has suffered massive job loss due to coronavirus and could benefit from federal government aid.
• How would donor capital instead of government aid help the clean energy sector?
• Learn more about clean energy job losses during COVID-19.
Renewable energy has been one of the few bright spots amid a global pandemic, as solar and wind power have surged across electricity grids worldwide. But the industry that supports renewable power is getting devastated: The U.S. economy lost nearly 600,000 clean energy jobs in March and April, setting what had been one of the country’s fastest-growing sources of employment on edge. All the job gains in renewables over the last five years have now been wiped out.
The numbers demolished earlier estimates. Jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles tripled the losses originally reported for March, according to an analysis of Department of Labor data by BW Research. Their previous analysis had estimated that the industry would lose half a million jobs by the end of June; but that grim milestone arrived at the end of April instead.
“We saw those March figures and thought, ‘This is really quite severe and it’s going to get worse,’” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, one of the green energy groups which commissioned the report. “But I think what we didn’t realize is that March was just a signal of what was to come.”
The clean energy industry employed over 3.4 million Americans last year, triple the number employed by the fossil fuel sector — and without federal aid, industry leaders warn that the situation could get much worse. BW Research now estimates that the industry could lose 850,000 jobs, a quarter of those employed in clean energy, by the end of June.
Wetstone said he hopes that the federal government will take a page out of the 2009 Obama-era Recovery Act, which helped renewable energy rebound from the Great Recession. That bill included a provision allowing wind and solar developers to continue to use federal tax credits.
Read the full article about clean energy jobs by Shannon Osaka at Grist.