Clean Power

Published on April 21st, 2016 | by Jake Richardson


New Solar Jobs Could Surpass New Oil Jobs In 2016

April 21st, 2016 by  

The number of oil job postings on the career website Indeed has decreased about 12% each quarter from 2014 to 2016, according to an Indeed blog post. For the same period, solar job postings declined by just about 1.7%, “But that could all change within the next year as employers in solar continue to post jobsIf oil job postings keep dropping at their current rate, solar could become the largest energy employer in several months,” wrote the Indeed poster.

Solar Jobs

An IRENA estimate pegged the number of people working in renewable energy globally — both directly and indirectly — at 7.7 million. One might expect this figure to include large hydropower, but it doesn’t.

A previous CleanTechnica article (from January) stated that there are already more solar power workers than ones working in oil and gas extraction in the US. This was based on the latest Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation. However, there are millions in the US working in supporting roles related to oil and gas, in addition to those working directly in extraction. But the number of solar jobs keeps growing: “Altogether, the US solar industry added jobs roughly 12 times faster than the other parts of the country’s economy added jobs, according to the report. To be more specific, the solar industry added 35,052 new jobs — bringing the total up to 208,859. This compares to the addition of 31,000 jobs in 2014, and 23,600 in 2013.” Note that 35,052 new jobs meant the solar sector contributed 1.2% of new jobs, and 1.2% of jobs is basically 1 out of 83 jobs.

Considering that solar power is better for the environment and human health, because it doesn’t emit air pollution, it is beneficial for society as a whole that there is a shift towards renewables.

For example, there are now more solar power workers in the US than there are coal miners.

At the same time, we also seem to be entering an age of the EV, with more electric vehicles coming out, and some with much longer ranges than we’ve historically seen, like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla cars. So there seems to be some kind of convergence or synergy taking place — especially if you consider the emerging energy storage space, which is also adding jobs and ties these two industries together.

Image Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Complete our 2017 CleanTechnica Reader Survey — have your opinions, preferences, and deepest wishes heard.

Check out our 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • Epicurus

    Great for the environment, but not that great for workers.

    The oil and gas industry requires a lot of highly educated, highly paid professionals: engineers, geologists, geophysicists, accountants and lawyers. Each oil and gas company, large and small, employs all these people. Most of the people employed at your local solar company do what–roof installations?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Accountant and attorney skills transfer across.

      Others may have to retrain. Same thing happened to harness makers.

      • Epicurus

        Harness makers didn’t go to school for years getting very specialized training. Oil and gas law is a specialty having to do with often arcane rules of real property relating to minerals which vary from state to state. They can transition to real estate law but that boat is already loaded. Engineers can theoretically transition too, but petroleum engineering is highly specialized as well.

        I agree about the inevitability of the transition, but I think the effect on people will be much more severe than in the past.

        This is just another area where high paying jobs are being replaced by much lower paying jobs.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Realistically, the oil industry will not collapse overnight. It will take two to three decades to move us off oil.

          That said, one did not just decide to make harness or become a wheelwright one morning and set up shop. These were skilled jobs which one worked for years to master.

          If you’re a young person considering a career as an engineer it would probably not be wise to specialize in oil (or nuclear). Consider what it looks like will be the future, renewable energy, electric transportation, manufacturing based on sustainable inputs.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Just heard today that Koch Industries employees 60,000 people.

    Renewable energy workers could outvote them several times over.

    • Brunel

      That is true but the pollution promoters can donate to both political parties.

      And I think they do in USA anyway.

      I heard Lyndon Rieve on a podcast saying SolarCity do lobby Washington.

    • jeffhre

      Your votes are vastly multiplied when you control the candidate selection process, employ the most experienced lobbyists, control the thought leaders by funding think tanks, research programs, model legislation and interest groups.

      • Epicurus

        That’s what Charles Koch meant when he said on 60 Minutes that he had been much more “successful” in the states than in the presidential election. Translation: gerrymandering to give Republicans overrepresentation in the House and in the state legislatures and right wing state legislation through ALEC.

        • jeffhre

          Why would I rely on gerrymandering…if I am at the head of the class of citizens which chooses suitable candidates for each political contest?

          • Epicurus

            How does that work exactly?

  • Brunel


  • JamesWimberley

    Looking at new jobs announced is a dumb way of assessing the employment impact – economists would use ratios, such as that of vacancies to job seekers. The US oil and gas extraction industry is in crisis and has been shedding jobs by the tens of thousands.

Back to Top ↑