Energy & Environment

Nearly 500k clean energy workers remain unemployed since pandemic start 

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Nearly half a million clean energy workers remain unemployed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new analysis. 

The analysis of unemployment filings by BW Research Partnership shows that 477,900 clean energy workers, or 14 percent of the sector’s pre-pandemic workforce, do not have jobs. 

Prior to the coronavirus, the sector had been expected to add 175,000 jobs this year. 

Things got slightly better for the sector in September, when 12,500 jobs were added. The 477,900 unemployment figure is down from the 594,300 jobs that had been lost in March and April. 

However, clean energy job growth last month was 60 percent slower than job growth nationwide, the analysis said. 

A large share of the job losses have been in energy efficiency, where 336,700 workers lost their jobs. A total of 75,700 renewable electric power generation workers, 10,000 clean fuels workers, 21,400 clean transmission, distribution and storage workers and 34,200 clean vehicles workers have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. 

In light of the job losses, clean energy advocates have pushed for targeted stimulus. However, past stimulus bills have lacked significant assistance for the sector, and current negotiations have stalled. 

“The hard-hitting impacts of COVID-19 continue to roil the renewable energy workforce,” said a statement from Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. 

“To keep that unemployment number from rising further, our ask to Congress is simple and urgent: We need temporary refundability for renewable tax credits so that projects can continue to be built in spite of a COVID-constrained tax equity market, and a delay in the scheduled phasedown of existing credits in recognition of the adverse nationwide impact the pandemic has had on the renewable sector this year,” Wetstone said. 

Tags clean energy
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