by Stephen Lacey.
Cross-posted from .
This Thursday, Republicans in the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee are holding a hearing called “How Obama’s Green Energy
Agenda is Killing Jobs.” Could they make their ideological opposition to
clean energy any more clear?
The Solyndra bankruptcy and subsequent layoff of 1,100 workers has
given opponents a platform to rail on green jobs as some kind of fantasy
— even when the evidence suggests otherwise.
Case in point: There are now 100,237 jobs in the American solar industry, according to this morning by the Solar Foundation. The organization is currently
putting together its second solar jobs census, which will be released
next month. The census tracks a diverse range of jobs in solar photovoltaics (PV),
solar thermal, and concentrating solar power.
The Solar Foundation found that between August of 2010 and
August of 2011, the solar industry grew by 6.8 percent, far outpacing the 0.7 percent
growth rate of the overall U.S. economy.
According to figures compiled by the solar census researchers from an
Economic Modeling Specialists database, jobs in the fossil-fuel
electricity generation sector actually dropped by more than 1,600 over
the last year. Meanwhile, the solar industry added more than 6,700 jobs.
While still only representing a small fraction of our energy mix, the
solar industry already maintains tens of thousands of jobs. As the
cost of the technologies continues to drop, solar is becoming with nuclear and fossil resources — spreading project development all
over the country. (In solar PV, module prices have fallen 80 percent in two
years, and total system costs have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the
last year and a half). At penetration levels of just a few percent, the
industry could potentially add hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Much of the solar activity in 2009 and 2010 was spurred by the
Treasury Grant Program, a federal incentive package that replaced tax
credits and made it easier to finance projects. That program is set to
expire at the end of this year. While the federal investment tax credit
is still in place through 2016, the lack of tax appetite among
financial institutions may slow project development a bit. As the solar
industry pushes for another extension of the grant program, lawmakers
now have 100,237 more reasons to listen up.
So why are politicians still claiming that green jobs don’t exist?
Some Republicans are trying to turn “green jobs” into a politically
untouchable word, just like they did with “climate.” But a recent public
opinion poll from Reuters .
The pollsters reported a major jump in the number of Americans who
believe in human-caused climate change — a rise influenced by the
uneducated, baseless attacks on science among Republican presidential
Perhaps the same backlash will take place in clean energy as more
Americans realize that jobs are actually being created in this sector.