The beginning of a new presidential reign along with the continued response to the coronavirus pandemic ensures that 2021 is set to be an integral year in many aspects of our lives. It creates a particularly exciting situation for employees, contractors, and job seekers in the US energy market and industrial sectors.
Forecasts have evolved while situations regarding energy consumption, energy efficiency, and a host of other factors affecting the Department of Energy have changed. So how did the US energy market change last year, and what lies ahead for 2021?
The Progress Of 2020
Division was at the epicentre of many political, cultural, and social issues throughout 2020. Nonetheless, it was a year in which the US energy market continued to make progress in several key areas.
As per Energy Storage News, 467MW / 764MWh of energy storage was deployed around the US across all market segments in Q3 of 2020. Meanwhile, the EIA reported that liquid fuel consumption in 2020 fell by 12% compared to 2019. Furthermore, the renewable energy sector continues to thrive, having previously doubled between 2000 and 2018.
While the progress is pivotal for the climate crisis, the impact on careers in the related industrial sectors should not be ignored. At a time where many business sectors are struggling to cope due to the pandemic, the energy workforce is thriving.
The 2020 US Energy & Employment Report shows that the sector has accounted for over 7% of new jobs across America while the value of the industry continues to follow a positive trajectory.
For all this perceived progress, however, the US remains the second-highest nation for energy consumption on the planet. Likewise, some of the stats set to be released in relation to 2020 electricity consumption will be skewed by the fact that many industries essentially ceased production amidst the pandemic.
The Changing Face Of The US
Of course, for the US, the political environment over the last few years has created some challenges. However, President Biden’s administration officially commenced on January 20 as he became the nation’s 46th leader. Following a campaign that focused heavily on climate protection, his reign has already started with plans to take on a greater undertaking than any predecessor, resulting in the sanction of over 35 orders. Those strategies are spearheaded by calls for multi-trillion-dollar investments, which is another very promising sign for anyone seeking employment in the industry.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Biden’s plans look set to revert back to an approach more similar to that of President Obama, who he served as vice president, rather than President Trump. One telling example is the commitment to spend $2trillion on eliminating greenhouse gases from the power sector by 2035. There will also be a continued shift towards electricity generation that avoids the creation of greenhouse gases.
Biden has commented recently that the US must lead the global climate change and that governments have already waited too long to show a clear sense of urgency to work with the Department of Energy and other authorities in the sector. Likewise, the White House’s Immediate Review of Agency Actions Taken Between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, set out the government’s stall.
His new orders aim to freeze new oil and gas leases on public lands, double off-shore wind energy, and conserve 30% of federal lands and oceans by 2030. It has been widely agreed that 2021 will be a big year for the journey towards a greener or potentially carbon-neutral future for the nation. A changing mindset and landscape were made clear when Biden’s administration started with the return to the Paris Agreement just hours after gaining office.
People can expect to see a continued emphasis on the fight against climate change throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Areas Of Improvement
Climate protection is arguably the most complex issue that any administration could face right now. The reliance on electricity and energy is greater than ever. Even if you disregard the 2020 figures due to the fact people were forced to stay home, the 2019 stats show that the average person uses 10,649KWh. When combined with commercial and industrial energy usage, the severity of the situation is clear – even if the presence of renewable energy has grown at a rapid rate.
A near 180-degree turn on climate change incorporates several initiatives that should grab the attention of all members of the energy workforce.
Vehicle emissions have been one of the biggest culprits for emissions over the last 25 years, which reflects the continued growth of vehicle numbers in that time. Biden has already shown a commitment to lead by example by turning the government fleet of over 645,000 vehicles into electric vehicles (EVs).
Crucially, at least for energy workers, the move is a part of an initiative to add one million electric-automaking jobs, which would signal an increase of over 100% on the industry stats for 2020. In addition to careers with manufacturers, there will be an increased call for mechanics as well as inventors or products that can enhance the EV-driving experiences.
After re-joining the Paris Accords, the US has set a goal of reducing nuclear energy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. As time has progressed, though, it is clear that nuclear energy must be used to ensure a sustainable transition.
The first zero-emission credit programs have already launched while liberalised wholesale electricity markets have supported the nuclear investment opportunities. This has been spearheaded by issues like the addition of new power plants and nuclear reactors following years of very little movement, as the industry moves into a new phase that focuses primarily on supporting the growth of more renewable energies.
Nuclear energy has been a central feature of powering America for generations, and that won’t suddenly end overnight. A new approach to it can make a big impact in 2021.
The commitment to increasing wind-generated power had started before Biden’s arrival at the White House, with Texas wind power now outranking coal, for example. This is just one of several territories to have made this progress.
This is supported by the order to increase offshore wind production, with a target of 41GW up from 21GW having been set. Careers at The Department of Interior, who are in charge of the initiative, are already alluding to the job prospects projects such as this are creating. In fact, the strategy requires a large volume of projects to be completed in the short-term future, which is highly appealing to energy workers.
In addition to the aforementioned issues, the Biden administration will focus heavily on modernising airport, railway, and highway energy consumption. The goal to cut unnecessary energy usage should reduce waste to help counteract the growing demands from an ever-increasing population.
With more people using energy in their daily lives, the generation of electricity and energy needs to match this. The fact that stocks in several green technologies are predicted to soar in 2021 gives further credence to the notion that modernisation will impact all areas of society’s transition to energy-efficient living. Initiatives, such as reimbursements for home solar panel installations, are likely to surface too.
The benefits of those widespread changes are particularly apparent for jobseekers, who will now enter a more flexible arena than they could have previously imagined.
What Does It Mean For Energy Workers?
Overall, the change in focus won’t only impact the environment and the process of gaining a greener climate. The increased spotlight and investment will support large sectors of the economy, which will translate to better job opportunities for workers in the electricity generation and related industrial sectors.
Reuters explains that the circumstances of the pandemic will play a significant role in what is anticipated to be a record-breaking year for employment growth. Nonetheless, Biden’s commitment to creating 10 million clean energy jobs and desire to facilitate the transition right away creates a very attractive prospect for skilled workers indeed.
For aspiring energy workers hoping to step onto the ladder, as well as existing employees hoping to climb it, the future of working in energy has never looked better.