The world is grappling with one of the most – if not the most – devasting crises of a generation. It’s forced people into their homes, cratered the markets and has lead to tens of millions of lost jobs. In the clean energy industry alone, over 100,000 jobs were lost in March. And it’s likely to get much worse.
A recent report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) revealed that there were 106,000 unemployment claims filed by clean energy workers in the month of March, with 69,800 claims coming from the energy efficiency industry, 16,500 coming from the renewable energy industry, 12,300 from the clean vehicles industry, and 7,700 from grids, storage, and clean fuels.
The wave of layoffs in March is just the beginning, according to the study. Demand for energy has plummeted, and the nationwide lockdown orders If no action is taken by Congress, as much as 500,000 jobs could be lost within the clean energy sector by the end of June.
E2 executive director Bob Keefe noted, “It’s a huge and important part of our economy,” adding, “Anything that Congress does to get our economy back on its feet and to get America working again should absolutely include a focus on an industry of that size.”
In addition to immediate support from lawmakers, advocates are also calling on Congress to use the industry to help rebuild the economy as it did following the economic crisis of 2008 with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The E2 report proposes a program that includes $30-90 billion in spending to improve grids to prepare for an extensive renewable energy deployment program which will incorporate a nationwide electric vehicle charging network and building electrification program. Additionally, its plan adds increased funding to the Department of Energy research and development programs.
Keefe explained, «Why can’t we get some of the 150,000 or so people who work in grid modernization at utilities and in energy storage out there upgrading our ancient power grid in America?” Adding “You can do some pretty good social distancing when you’re a couple hundred feet up on a power line somewhere.”