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Turning Fossil Fuel Experience into Clean Power Jobs

Sustainable Cleveland

A part of the clean energy transition that strikes at the core of many communities who are not so enthusiastic about it comes in the area of jobs. Companies, people, regions, and professions that are dependent on fossil fuel production and generation are obviously not enthusiastic about anyone calling for their livelihood to be affected, and these communities must not be forgotten as clean energy proposals are brought forth. 

Communities of people reliant upon coal for economic prosperity have been seeing their way of life continue to get undermined, and any widespread legislation to continue the phaseout of coal (or other carbon emitting fuels) must provide assistance and a plan for these communities. Further, even without legislation a lot of this transition is likely to take place due to changing economics in the energy mix, so programs that encourage green job training, moving assistance, and repurposing of existing fossil-related infrastructure are critical whether or not policy like the Green New Deal or a carbon tax is enacted. 

Luckily, these ideas are not radical and generally have the support of anyone largely pushing clean energy policy. What is interesting, though, is the unique ways in which innovators and leaders have realized that the experience of people who worked in various fossil fuel industries can have their knowledge and skills be directly transferred into jobs that embrace the clean energy transition. 

Some notable examples of this trend include the following:

In Her Element: How Kristen Hough Left The Coal Mines and Started Climbing Wind Turbines

Great story of a woman who grew up in a coal town and was trained in the necessary heavy machinery in cole mines and served on a rescue team. Those skills were transferrred well to become a wind turbine technician. 

Oil Giants See a Future in Offshore Wind Power. Their Suppliers Are Investing, Too

While oil and wind power could not be more different of energy sources, turns out the technological knowhow to install offshore wind platforms are direct parallels for installing offshore fossil fuel platforms. Large companies are taking notice and are hiring people with deep sea oil experience to develop offshore wind turbines. 

Orsted's Burbo Bank Wind Farm, off the UK, is one of several offshore wind farms developed and operated by fossil fuel companies. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

How Can We Ensure The Energy Transition Leaves No Worker Behind

The World Economic Forum has the issue of fossil fuel jobs being replaced and workers not being ready or trained for the new world as a high priority, and this article highlights awareness of that issue and solutions like diversifying away from a single industry in these communities, transitioning the technical knowledge of coal workers into the solar industry, and embracing programs like Weatherizers Without Borders

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