Minnesota’s climate-friendly renewable energy job boom

Looking for a job? Solar installer, and wind energy technician were the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. last year.

Renewable jobs BLS
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And the International Energy Agency reports solar power is now the fastest-growing source of all new energy worldwide last year. The explosion of new solar and wind farms is fueling a renewable energy construction boom.

The wind and solar energy boom has created thousands of jobs in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Twin Cities-based Mortenson Construction has become a leader in renewable energy construction.

Mortenson wind project

On Climate Cast I asked Mortenson’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Wacker how renewable energy projects have grown to generate over a third their corporate revenue in 2016.

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Climate scientists make clear the fastest way to reduce atmospheric carbon is by changing the way we use energy. The shift from high carbon fuels to cleaner energy sources is happening much faster than many predicted just 10 years ago. Installed solar power in 2016 was roughly 50 times higher than the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted in 2006.

Solar North Star credit Evan Frost MPR
North Star Solar facility in Minnesota. Image: Evan Frost MPR

The International Energy Agency reports renewables comprised two-thirds of new power added to world’s energy grids last year. Reuters reports the cost of (utility scale) solar could fall by 60 percent in the next decade.

And the cost of battery backup technology could fall by 60 percent to 70 percent. If battery storage capacity and costs drop as much as many predict, it will make solar and wind even more efficient and cost effective delivery vehicles for energy.

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