75,000 New Jobs to Enter Solar Workforce, Including Military Veterans
Today, there are nearly 17,000 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who are working in the solar energy industry. Well, that number is about to grow substantially.
In a decision that’s certain to help to speed up America’s transition to a clean energy future, President Obama announced today that the Department of Energy (DOE) will launch a new initiative to train 75,000 Americans—including military veterans—to enter the solar workforce by 2020. The President made the announcement at Hill Air Force Base in Utah as part of a roundtable discussion on clean energy technology and workforce training with Sen. Orin Hatch, Congressman Rob Bishop and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
This new initiative will provide a big boost to the U.S. economy, while also helping to maintain solar energy’s explosive jobs growth. I’ll make this promise: With stable public policies in place, we will not only meet the President’s goal of adding 75,000 new solar jobs in America by 2020, but we will blow past it!
Today, the solar industry already employs 174,000 workers nationwide—more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined—and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy. This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both our economy and environment.
According to The Solar Foundation’s 2014 National Jobs Census, the solar industry in America is becoming increasingly diverse, with minorities, women and veterans representing a growing percentage of the workforce. Over the past five years alone, the industry has added more than 80,000 new employees—an increase of 86 percent.
Also, as part of today’s announcement, the White House will work to make G.I. Bill funding available to support solar workforce training. Dating back to 1944, the G.I. Bill has been widely hailed by historians as one of America’s most successful economic and political programs.
With approximately 200,000 U.S. servicemen and women leaving the military each year, much more needs to be done to help them find civilian jobs and meaningful workforce training. As an industry, we are uniquely positioned to help. Record-breaking growth in solar energy installations nationwide requires a growing and skilled solar workforce. We applaud the President and his administration for undertaking this new initiative, and we’re prepared, and excited, to do our part to help. We look forward to more and more of our military veterans becoming solar veterans, too!
The White House’s new workforce training initiative closely tracks U.S. public opinion. A new Gallup Poll shows that 91 percent of Americans want to see more emphasis, or the same emphasis as today, on producing solar energy. Compared to oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and other renewables, solar was the only energy source to show an increase in public favorability when compared to results of a similar nationwide poll taken by Gallup in 2013.
Today, there are 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity in the U.S.—enough to power more than 4 million homes—with another 20 GW projected to come online by the end of 2016. What’s spurring this rapid growth? For one thing, solar energy is now more affordable than ever. According to SEIA/GTM Research, national blended average system prices have dropped 53 percent since 2010.
The solar industry is also helping to fight climate change. Last year, solar helped to offset 22.3 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, the equivalent of removing 4.7 million cars off America’s highways and roads, or not using 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline.
Every 2.5 minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is helping to fight climate change by flipping the switch on another completed solar project. We’re proud that solar accounted for one-third of all new electric generation capacity last year in the U.S. And, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential. As the old saying goes, the sky’s the limit.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.