More than half a million Californians are working in clean energy industries, outnumbering jobs in the fossil fuel industry by almost five to one, as the state leads the U.S. in the implementation of renewable energy and climate laws.

California hosts 512,934 people working in clean energy, doing everything from installing solar panels to making buildings more energy efficient, according to a study the non-profit Environmental Entrepreneurs released Aug. 20. After a sluggish 2018, California employers are projected to boost the number of jobs in renewables by almost 10% this year, leading the nation.

California is home to one in seven clean energy jobs in the U.S. and nearly four of every 10 solar jobs in the country. Clean vehicles is the only clean energy sector the state does not rank first in, trailing Michigan by less than 3,000 workers.

“The clean energy industry is a large and growing part of our economy, certainly here in California, but nationally as well,” Bob Keefe, executive director of California-based Environmental Entrepreneurs, said in a The Mercury News interview. “With the right policies, we can keep these clean energy jobs growing in red states, blue states, purple states, and in every county in California from Humboldt to San Diego.”

  • The Environmental Entrepreneurs study was based on the 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, a survey of the energy industry that the Energy Department used to release. The DOE discontinued the survey after President Trump took office, and it’s now compiled by two non-profit groups using the same methodology: the Energy Futures Initiative and the National Association of State Energy Officials.
  • California led the U.S. in producing electricity from solar, geothermal and biomass in 2017, and was the second-ranked state in conventional hydroelectric generation, according to the Energy Information Administration.
  • California fossil-fuel industry has been in decline for decades. Crude-oil output has dropped from more than a million barrels a day in 1986 to 454,000 barrels a day in May, the most recent month with data, EIA data show. Natural gas production is less than half the level seen in 1993.
  • Karma Takeaway: California’s experience shows that the switch to a low-carbon future has been a bonanza for job-creation. Entrepreneurs have responded to the state’s renewable energy and climate laws by developing new sectors that meet the laws’ requirements and bolster economic growth.