Listening to last weekend’s 60 Minutes, I felt I was watching a Saturday Night Live sketch on parallel universes. The bash fest by Leslie Stahl seemed like it was co-written by the Koch Brothers, lead funders of climate denier organizations and Keystone XL pipeline advocacy groups.
But in reality, clean energy has never looked better. The REN21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report released on June 12th, 2013 concluded that global demand for renewable energy continued to rise during 2011 and 2012, supplying an estimated 19 percent of global final energy consumption in 2011 (the latest year for which data are available), with a little less than half from traditional biomass. However, 2012 was the second highest year ever for renewable energy investments, which added up to $244 billion (including small hydro-electric projects). There was a continuing upward trend in developing countries, with investments topping $132 billon.
Wall Street Journal reporter Keith Johnson wrote in his September 22nd 2013 “Six Myths About renewable Energy” article:
It's also important to remember the scale of the country's renewable efforts. The U.S. has the second-biggest electricity system in the world, accounting for about 20 percent of the entire world's generation capacity. Wind power's 5 percent of that pie is a big slice. The 60-odd gigawatts of windpower installed in the U.S. amounts to more electricity-generation capacity than in the entire country of Australia or Saudi Arabia, and as much as all of Mexico. It's about half as much power as in France or Brazil.
On April 18, 2013, The Solar Foundation (TSF) announced the release of its State Solar Jobs Map, a web-based tool providing the first-ever solar jobs numbers for each of the fifty states. These new state numbers build upon TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012, which found that the U.S. solar energy industry employs 119,016 Americans and that solar employment grew 13.2 percent over the prior year, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the country.
According to industry estimates, the wind sector employs 75,000 American workers, including workers at manufacturing facilities up and down the supply chain, as well as engineers and construction workers who build and operate the wind farms.
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) estimated that there were about 5,200 jobs directly related to geothermal power production and management in 2010.
The biofuels industry directly employed over 87,292 Americans in 2012.
The National Hydropower Association reports, “The hydropower industry currently accounts for approximately 200,000-300,000 jobs according to a study by Navigant Consulting Inc. And according to the same study, with the right policies, the industry could add 1.4 million new cumulative direct, indirect and induced full-time equivalents (FTE) jobs by 2025.”
According to the National Mining Association statistics, coal production has demonstrable benefits, which include the direct employment of 204,580 people in 2011.
Silicon Beat’s 60 Minutes article stated, “There’s a token throw away line about Tesla Motors, which had a fantastic year by any measure and has more than 6,000 employees. But nothing in the piece about Agua Caliente, California Valley Solar Ranch or Ivanpah, massive solar projects that were not only funded by the DOE’s 1705 program but are up and running.” Note, the U.S. has 1.3 GW of concentrated solar either built or being built right now.
And Daniel Kessler’s article in the Huffington Post looked at it this way: “Clean tech is outpacing fossil fuels for job creation. Just look at two projects: The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and the Ivanpah solar installation in the Mojave. According to the State Department, Keystone XL will create about 50 permanent jobs. This while threatening our land, water, and climate. Ivanpah is expected to employ 2,650 construction jobs and 86 operations and maintenance jobs.
In the 60 Minutes piece, host Leslie Stahl claimed, "There were not that many jobs created. The DOE loan program office estimates that its investments have created or saved approximately 55,000 direct jobs.”