It’s no secret that renewable energy goes a long way to combat climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There’s a huge environmental benefit, but renewable energy also affords economic advantages.
Last month the International Renewable Energy Agency reported that the industry employs 7.7 million people worldwide – here’s how it’s improving the economy right here at home.
Renewable energy requires labor. Most fossil fuel technologies are automated, but renewable energy requires skilled labor and that means it has major potential for job creation. Each unit of renewable electricity generates more jobs than equal units of fossil fuels. In 2011, the wind energy industry alone employed 75,000 people full-time in more than 500 U.S. factories. National solar industry jobs grew 20% in 2013!
Investments are bringing money to our economy. Renewable energy projects promote investments in the U.S. economy. In 2012, wind power projects represented a $25 billion investment nationally. In Iowa, where they generate more than 20 percent of their electricity through wind power, these renewable energy projects brought in $19.5 million for state and local government initiatives.
And that money oftentimes stays in the community. Owners of the land that house renewable energy projects often receive lease payments and other royalties. In the biomass industry, farmers and rural landowners can generate income by selling raw material – like organic and animal waste – to the processing facilities.
We’re stabilizing energy prices. Right now renewable energy is delivering affordable electricity to communities from coast to coast. Renewable facilities call for decent investment up front, but they operate at low cost and much of the fuel is free. This helps stabilize prices over time. Just a 25 percent renewable energy policy standard would lower natural gas prices by 4.1 percent and electricity prices by 7.6 percent by the year 2030.