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Monday, March 4, 2019

Renewable Energy Jobs for Coal Miners and Oil Workers

Solar technician installing solar panels for a solar installation site

The Bottom Line: 

  • Coal and oil workers are well prepared to be retrained for renewable energy jobs
  • Communities that once relied on coal are reinventing themselves with solar and wind jobs
  • CleanChoice Energy supports the development of clean energy jobs, and you can too by switching to clean wind and solar as the source of your home’s electricity. 


The astounding growth of renewable energy like solar and wind is good news for those who work with fossil fuels, especially coal miners and oil drillers. 

Why is this good news? For fossil fuel workers, renewable energy offers an opportunity to learn new skills and possibly build a new career. That’s a big deal since these industries have been declining in job growth. 

Old and New Fuels Often Use the Same Tools 

Coal miners are oil workers are skilled technical workers already familiar with complex machinery and equipment. That technological expertise, plus the aptitude for mechanical work, primes these workers to succeed in solar and wind energy fields.

A 2016 study analyzed if and how it’s possible to retrain coal workers to become solar workers on a large scale, including setting up funding and apprenticeship programs. While coal miners and oil drillers can’t step right into solar jobs, an apprenticeship or training program could quickly and efficiently turn them into skilled “green” workers. Worth noting is they would likely earn a higher salary than they did in the fossil fuel industry. Many of the skill sets for the fields overlap, making the transition relatively easy, even for those who have worked in coal and oil for their entire careers. 

The offshore wind industry is particularly interested in oil workers; while some coal miners are training to become bee keepers or computer coders

Solar and Wind Are Creating Jobs Where There Were None 

The solar and wind fields employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. In 2017, nearly 476,000 people worked in either the wind or solar industries. Meanwhile, coal and oil jobs are declining and have been for at least a decade. Tragically, most of those jobs are in impoverished parts of the country where they aren't other industries to fill the gap. With coal or other fossil fuel jobs dwindling, the result is higher poverty and unemployment and, potentially, the withering of some communities. 

Fortunately, people in those areas may be particularly well positioned to join the clean energy work force. Increasingly, companies are siting solar arrays and wind farms on top of old coal mines or even on offshore oil rigs repurposed as wind turbines

For example, Solar Holler, in West Virginia, launched the state’s first solar job training and apprenticeship program. It’s helping young people in the heart of coal country become solar technicians and move the state forward with solar power.   

The Future Is Brighter Because of Clean Energy Workers 

The surge of renewable resources means a brighter and healthier future for all, with opportunities for new jobs and a stronger economy. 

Former fossil fuel workers turned clean energy workers are breathing new life into struggling communities. They’re also helping transform the nation away from outdated, polluting energy to sustainable sources that produce no carbon emissions when they generate electricity. 

Here at CleanChoice Energy, we support the growth of clean energy jobs across the nation. We do this by advocating for the development of clean energy at the state levels, and by sourcing electricity from wind and solar farms located in the regions where our customers live. 

You can be part of a cleaner future today by choosing clean energy for your electricity. Learn how you can switch your home or business to 100% pollution-free renewable energy today with CleanChoice Energy.

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