A story that appeared in the March 1, 2017, issue of Fortune magazine says that despite President Trump’s campaign promises, the future of energy jobs is not in coal, but in solar.
President Trump promised time and time again to bring back jobs to the coal industry along his campaign trail, and those promises helped to win him a lot of voters. Unfortunately, the promises weren’t based in reality, as America’s energy future is in solar instead of coal.
A recent report from the Energy Department shows that the coal electric generation sector employed just 86,035 people in 2016, 57,325 of whom were miners. Meanwhile, 370,000 people are currently working in the solar industry, a number that is up 25 percent from 2015. Beyond solar, the wind energy workforce went up 32 percent to 101,738 over the past year. Over the same time span, the number of employed coal miners has gone down 24 percent.
And that brings up the question: why? There are many reasons: the shale gas boom, declining demand, Obama-era regulations and automation.
However, since Trump has begun his term as president, the National Mining Association has upgraded the industry outlook from “not great” to “improving,” and there is certainly reason for optimism in the coal sector. It remains to be seen if loosening regulations and ending solar subsidies will stop the coal industry’s steady decline, or if it can adversely affect solar’s meteoric rise.