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Hullabaloo


Sunday, May 21, 2017

 
An Inconvenient Truth

by digby

For Trump and his fans:

Putting solar panels on rooftops and arrays is a labor-intensive process. You need people to design and manufacture the panels. Then people to market the panels to homes, businesses, and utilities. Then people to come and install them.

It all adds up to a lot of jobs. Even though solar power still provides just a fraction of America’s electricity — about 1.3 percent — the industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Solar Foundation. And it’s growing fast: Last year, the solar industry accounted for one of every 50 new jobs nationwide.

The chart below breaks it down by job type. The majority of solar jobs are in installation, with a median wage of $25.96 per hour. The residential market, which is the most labor-intensive, accounts for 41 percent of employment, the commercial market 28 percent, and the utility-scale market the rest:



To put this all in perspective: “Solar employs slightly more workers than natural gas, over twice as many as coal, over three times that of wind energy, and almost five times the number employed in nuclear energy,” the report notes. “Only oil/petroleum has more employment (by 38%) than solar.”

Obviously, this sort of thing doesn't help coal miners in places where coal mining once provided a lot of jobs. But that is the story of civilization. I don't think any liberal or environmentalist believes that the government shouldn't help people who are displaced by such evolutions in technology. The only people who don't care about that are the conservatives these folks inexplicably vote for.

But the fact is that there are a bunch of new jobs being created by modern solar technology. And they're jobs that could be done by at least some of the same people who mined in the past. Or a new generation.

It's just another illustration of how disillusioning Trump's empty nostalgia is going to be. Those coal jobs will not come back. And on some level they knew it. But instead of inspiring them to the future the way the best American political leaders have always done, he drew them into a fever dream about a past that cannot be recreated. Since he himself still dwells in the world of his youth in his own mind it was very convincing to these folks.



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