Though crude oil prices were up $20 since January – at just above $50 a barrel in late May – the price is still about $12 lower than June 2015. Adding pressure to the industry, in May, the Environmental Protection Agency released its first-ever standards for methane emissions in the oil and gas sector (see page 18). And with another blow to the oil and gas industry, Schlumberger distributed 2,000 more pink slips in April.
On the other hand, this year American wind power had its most productive first quarter since 2012. Wind added 520MW of new electric generating capacity to the power grid from January through March, according to AWEA’s U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2016 Market Report (see page 13). The Department of Energy’s 2015 Wind Vision Report stated that wind power can double in the next five years to supply 10% of U.S. electricity demand by 2020 and 20% by 2030.
Forbes Magazine reports that sales of solar panels could start booming. The Wall Street Journal reported that solar panel leasing companies are taking a hit, as more homeowners are buying solar panels. The newspaper highlights that solar panel leases, which were 72% of sales in 2014, are anticipated to drop 48% by 2017. As more companies offer loans, purchasing solar panels is becoming the more affordable option.
Although, growing solar isn’t 100% safe either. One of the United States’ largest renewable energy companies, Sun Edison, filed for bankruptcy in April due to “immediate liquidity issues.” The company’s solar energy segment offers installation, financing, monitoring, operations, and maintenance services in addition to manufacturing polysilicon and silicon wafers, while subcontracting its assembly of solar modules. The impact could be far-reaching for clean and non-clean energy generation.
Oil and gas manufacturing seems close to a standstill, while renewables have a little more wiggle room. Which makes me wonder if oilfield workers are jumping ship?
The Wall Street Journal ran an article in April about a Texas couple formerly employed in the oil and gas industry who turned to solar panel installation and construction after the downturn. Even though more solar power is expected to come online in the coming years, it’s anticipated 30,000 jobs created will still not sustain the 150,000 jobs lost in oil. But as companies such as Statoil and Repsol are diversifying from fossil fuels into offshore wind, could this become a trend and close oil and gas’ unemployment gap? I am curious to know if others are expanding their resumes into renewable energy during this hard time for oil and gas, or if they’re still riding the wave? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Arielle