US government perks, UN measures help expand green-energy employment.

By: Danny King

Just in case anyone thought Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk couldn't get more ink in these pages, he appears to be at the center of a trend that can complement his electric-vehicle development. Musk's SolarCity solar-panel distributor competes in a green-energy sector that's now said to be growing far faster than old-line natural-resource sectors like oil and coal,Bloomberg News says, citing an International Renewable Energy Agency study released this week. In fact, last year, solar-energy jobs outnumbered oil- and natural-gas extraction employment in the US for the first time ever.

Since 2012, the number of US solar jobs jumped about 75 percent to 210,000, while oil and gas extraction remained flat and coal-mining jobs decreased. Part of the issue is the crash in oil prices, which fell 35 percent in 2015, the third straight year oil prices declined. Meanwhile, the increase in perks for green-energy development from the federal and state governments have also helped create new-technology jobs by encouraging companies in fields such as solar and wind energy to expand.

The trend is global as well. Worldwide, there were 8.1 million clean-energy jobs last year, up more than five percent from 2014. About a third of those jobs are solar-energy related, followed up by biofuel production and wind energy. China added 65 gigawatts of renewable-energy capacity last year, while other parts of Asia and Brazil are also boosting green-energy employment. And as the United Nations continues to expand its climate-change measures, the clean-energy sector's global workforce is projected to jump to 24 million by 2030 from about 8.1 million last year.