Solar jobs outdoing coal, oil and gas: combined

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader may have been right when he said, “The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.”

However, entrepreneurs beyond fossil-fuel folks have long recognized solar power as the non-polluting, reliable energy source that also helps fight climate change, and more efficient solar systems plus decreasing costs have contributed to dramatic good news: Solar energy companies now employ more workers than any other energy industry — including coal, oil and natural gas combined. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual “U.S. Energy and Employment Report” released days before the Inauguration started snuffing out most news that wasn’t about the White House, Russia, false claims and bizarre tweets.

According to the report, solar — both photovoltaic (small-scale) and concentrated (large-scale solar-power “plants”) — employed almost 374,000 workers in 2016, a one-year increase of 25 percent.

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