A new study by George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis compares the potential economic impacts of developing renewable energy versus fossil energy - coal and natural gas - in Virginia through 2035. The results are striking, although not surprising to those of us who believe in, and advocate for, clean energy:
The quantification of economic impacts shows that significant economic gains and new jobs would accrue from investment in renewable energy sources in both scenarios. The economic gains from the two renewable energy sources ranged from $13 billion to $20.8 billion – significantly higher than gains from coal and natural gas. The construction costs for renewables would be higher, operating costs would be comparable among all the different sources, but the higher investment required for renewables would create the most significant economic gains.
After signing the Green Communities Act into law in 2008, the commonwealth has seen an explosion of new companies. There are now 64,000 people employed in Massachusetts’ clean energy sector today.
We see this pattern being repeated across the country, in state after state. Perhaps that's why, as we pointed out last month , renewables were the fastest-growing U.S. industry between 2007 and 2011, with the U.S. solar industry growing 10 times faster than the national economy during 2011, in the middle of a severe recession.
As we also noted recently, “green goods and services” actually employ several times more people (3.1 million) than the oil and gas industry (743,825-1.12 million jobs), according to U.S. government statistics.