You are reading Part 7 of 7 in this series. What are Quick Facts?

How many U.S. renewable energy jobs are there?

  • There were just over 560,000 U.S. jobs in the renewable energy generation and fuels in 2019, up about 2% from 548,168 in 2018, according to reports produced jointly by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative. For 2019, these made up about 8% of the roughly 6.8 million U.S. jobs in the energy sector.

  • As of September 2019, solar photovoltaic installer and wind turbine service technician are projected to be, respectively, the first and second fastest-growing jobs in the United States for 2018-2028. This reflects significant growth in the U.S. renewable energy sector; between 2009 and 2019, electricity generation from renewables increased more than 70%, and electricity generation from solar and wind increased nearly 400%.

What is the future of U.S. renewable energy?

  • In some cases, renewable energy is the cheapest option. For each megawatt-hour of energy generated, one analysis found that the levelized cost of energy (a statistic used to compare the costs of generating energy) is $32 to $42 for solar and $28 to $54 for wind, while it is $44 to $68 for some kinds of generation from natural gas, $66 to $152 for coal, and $118 to $192 for nuclear energy. Plus, the costs of fossil fuel energy generation do not include the complete costs created by their environmental effects.

  • As of January 2020, the federal Energy Information Administration projects that renewable energy will constitute an increasing fraction of U.S. energy generation, with energy from solar photovoltaic cells and wind growing most dramatically.

  • However, renewable energy growth will depend on a number of economic, political, and other variables. Tax credits and subsidies for renewables and for fossil fuels influence these fuels’ relative affordability, as do other policies. For example, as of April 2020, 30 states and the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards that designate how much energy suppliers must obtain from renewable sources by certain target dates.

  • Many individuals and small businesses have installed wind or solar systems. These small-scale systems produced under 1% of U.S. electricity generation in 2019, but they allow many homes and buildings to sustainably generate their own energy and even sell leftover energy to the grid.

  • Ongoing research aims to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly renewable energy technologies. For example, newer photovoltaic cells are more affordable, more efficient, and more flexible for use in a wider array of applications, such as shingles or window coatings.

  1. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent federal agency, provides an overview of energy in the United States, explains energy sources and uses, and answers common questions about renewables and other forms of energy. It also offers a wealth of data about energy generation and consumption from different sources over time and publishes news and analysis about energy and related policy. The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020 with projections to 2050 outlines how energy generation and use may change in the future, based on markets and historical trends.

  2. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s 2020 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook includes recent information on the U.S. energy sector, such as market details, data on emerging technologies, and historical trends.

  3. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published the 2018 Renewable Energy Fact Book, which is the most recent edition and includes summary information on the different types of renewable energy sources. The Fact Book was prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which also gives information about each of the major renewable energy sources. The EERE also describes technologies and research in different methods of renewable electricity generation, including solar, geothermal, wind, and water.

  4. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy and the Environment resource delves into the environmental effects of energy systems and provides tools to measure environmental impact.

  5. The International Energy Agency (a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization) produced the report Global CO2 Emissions in 2019, which provides helpful international context about global energy trends and development. A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019, breaks down the prices tied to different renewable energy technologies and processes on a global scale.