Energy and raw materials are the lifeblood of our society. Different types of energy are needed to produce the goods we consume, to heat and light our homes, fuel our transportation systems and drive local jobs.
Fossil fuels as energy sources were utilized as early as 2000 BC when China discovered coal was a great source for heating and cooking purposes. In the 1st century, China found a way to refine petroleum (oil) for use as an energy source. In the early 1700's, a great shift in population and industry infrastructure was due to the introduction of coal as a source of mechanical power. Later on, in the 19th century, the first natural gas well in the US was drilled. When they first became widely known and used, these energy source discoveries created many job opportunities, however, unbeknownst to many at the time, these jobs came with dangerous implications. After the American Civil War, the petroleum industries continued technological advances allowed it to emerge as the major source of energy and lubrication in the 20th century. Without a doubt coal, natural gas, and petroleum were crucial components in the progress of our industrial capabilities, however, with the amount of technology and knowledge available today it is more than obvious that these non-renewable sources are not viable for our health and for the necessary decarbonization of our environment.
From 2007 to 2013, a total of 191 U.S. coal miners died in mining accidents around the nation. Tens of thousands of coal miners lost their lives at work through the 20th century. In a report released in 2014, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) approximated over 29,000 cases of mesothelioma and about 26,000 cases of Black Lung cancer from 2000 to 2010 amongst coal miners. Not only does coal and other non-renewable sources affect our environment after combustion, these sources are also very dangerous for the workers that are exposed to them daily.
In contrast, the renewable energy industry has seen a dramatic growth in jobs opportunities. The International Renewable Energy Agency released a report on Renewable Energy Jobs in 2017 that indicates very surprising and promising statistics. In 2016, the renewable energy industry employed almost 10 million people. The solar photovoltaic sector provided close to 3.1 million jobs. In the US alone one in every 50 jobs created in 2016 came from the solar industry.
Although there have been various political threats to the inevitable boom of the solar industry, states, and local governments have stepped up in the absence of federal clean energy leadership. Legislators in Massachusetts and California have introduced bills aiming to power the states with 100 percent renewable energy systems by the years 2035 and 2045, respectively. It's becoming more clear that the fossil fuel industry dying out and is unable to dim down the sunlight that benefits everyone’s pockets and most importantly the sustainability of our environment.
The renewable energy market is expanding and will keep expanding due to the significant decreases in costs and increases in efficiency. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Agency released a statement saying that the renewable energy market has reached heights that were expected for 40 years from now. We are on the verge of an inevitable solar revolution.