Renewable-energy manufacturing jobs are on the rise

February 27, 2017 - 02:30am
Renewable-energy jobs on the rise

While the Trump administration focuses on trying to bring back coal-industry jobs, the outlook for renewable-energy employment, including in manufacturing, has increased. Solar showed bright prospects in 2016 and the wind industry is picking up.

According to the nonprofit Solar Foundation’s 2016 National Solar Jobs Census, the American solar workforce grew at a historic pace in 2016, with one out of every 50 new U.S. jobs being in that industry last year. Solar industry employment growth outpaced the overall U.S. economy by 17 times as it increased by more than 51,000 jobs, for a total of 260,077 U.S. solar workers. The solar workforce grew by 25 percent over 2015, the largest annual growth percentage since The Solar Foundation’s first National Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010. There was a 26 percent growth in manufacturing companies to 38,121 jobs nationwide. The number of solar jobs increased in 44 of the 50 states in 2016.

According to the survey, solar now ranks second in total employment among energy industries, slightly higher than natural gas and more than twice as high as coal. The oil industry remains ahead in total employment by a factor of 38 percent.

The wind-energy industry is also now breezing past its dismal numbers of a few years ago. According to AWEA, the American Wind Energy Association, more than 500 factories are building wind-related parts and materials in 43 states, making everything from major wind turbine components such as nacelles, blades, towers and gearboxes, to internal components like bearings, slip rings, fasteners and power converters. These facilities supported more than 25,000 manufacturing jobs in 2016. Overall, 100,000 U.S. wind jobs exist across all 50 states.

Nonpartisan politics web site The Hill points out that wind-energy industry manufacturing facilities are being built not only close to where the wind farms are being built, but also where many manufacturing facilities have fled. “For example, in the Rust Belt, Ohio leads the U.S. with over 60 wind power factories, while Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania boast 26 apiece.”

Related Glossary Terms

  • web


    On a rotating tool, the portion of the tool body that joins the lands. Web is thicker at the shank end, relative to the point end, providing maximum torsional strength.


Former Senior Editor

Michael Anderson, former senior editor at Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, holds a master's degree in written communication from Eastern Michigan University. He has been professionally writing about manufacturing technology since 1998, including more than 10 years at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.


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