Solar at Work

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Our friends at the Solar Foundation released a sneak peek at the results of their 2011 National Solar Jobs Census. It comes as no surprise to any of us working in solar that this fast growing industry continues to brighten the American economy . . .

The census data shows that 100,237 Americans are now working in the U.S. solar industry. That’s more than U.S. coal mining. That’s more than U.S. steel and iron production. That’s way more than U.S. crude oil and natural gas pipeline transportation. That’s real.

The 6,735 new solar jobs added between August 2010 and August 2011 amount to 6.8% annual growth – leaps and bounds better than jobs in the overall economy (up 0.7%) as well as fossil fuel electric generation (down 2%).

As with last week’s news of record solar cost reductions, this American solar jobs success did not happen by accident. It’s the direct result of federal and state policies that have built new solar power markets in communities nationwide. Mind you, actual federal investment in solar has lagged far behind spending on conventional energy resources. A recent report from DBL Investors indicated that federal subsidies going to the oil & gas industry have averaged $4.86 billion annually for 100 years. Meanwhile annual support for all renewables including solar has received less than 1/10th of that – $370 million – for just the past 15 years. Yet as data point after data point shows, solar has successfully delivered high returns on its relatively small share of government investment.

Amid the increasingly politicized fallout from last month’s Solyndra closure, it’s important to remember that our nation’s solar power industry is strong and getting stronger by the day. In fact, it’s the fastest growing industry in the U.S. It’s also worth remembering that critical policy support for solar has come from both sides of the aisle and all corners of the country. As well it should for this homegrown, job creating, safe, reliable and plentiful energy resource. Now’s no time to be backing down our commitment to this rare bright spot in our nation’s economy.

The Solar Foundation conducted the Solar Jobs Census with Green LMI (a division of BW Research Partnership) and technical assistance from Cornell University. They’ll be releasing the full report with state-specific data, workforce needs, and policy guidelines at Solar Power International in October. All the more reason we hope to see you there in Dallas!

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • http://www.pvsolarfit.co.uk john coates

    we at http://www.pvsolarfit.co.uk are looking for an extra 6 fitters and 2 electricians,

    we are based in lancashire near burnley and blackburn, we think the solar business is growing very fast and we need to keep growing.

    • Anthony Neal

      Hello John, very interested and pleased to learn of your company’s growth. I am a CIMA management accountant with substantial experience in identifying cost savings and sales opportunities, which I would like to apply in the PV sector as I am also of the view that this is a major growth point and want to support it. If you wish I can send you my CV for consideration.

      With very best regards and best wishes.

      Anthony