While the debate over green jobs rages on (catch up on some of the back and forth here), we’d like to stand back and thank the 100,000+ U.S. solar workers for their considerable efforts to build a clean energy economy. And in case you’re not privy to what those contributions entail:
The U.S. is a serious player in the global solar market, as a net global exporter by $1.9Billion and was even a net exporter to China by more than $240 million.
Thanks to innovation and competition, solar power is becoming more affordable everyday: the price of solar panels have been steeply declining over the last several years, with a dramatic 30% drop last year.
More than 5,500 companies are operating in the U.S. solar supply chain, including material suppliers, component manufacturers, installers, and others support services from marketing, legal and financial professionals. These represent real, countable jobs.
And despite recent headlines, solar manufacturing is strong: 60 factories have either added or expanded in the last 18 months, in some of the most economically-depressed states like Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Last week’s announcement that Solyndra is closing down operations and laying off 1,100 workers has received much press attention and the loss of those jobs is indeed unfortunate. But the industry as a whole is growing and maturing. Just look at a few of Solyndra’s neighbors to see the flip side: SunPower has more than 1,000 employees in the U.S. and another 100 contracted manufacturers in Milpitas. Across the bay in San Mateo is SolarCity, the country’s largest residential solar service provider: they have 1200 employees, including 500 added in the last year and plans to hire 200-300 more before the end of 2011. And there are many more stories like these all across the country.
Thank you, U.S. solar industry, for being a bright spot during these tough economic times, and for bringing us ever closer to the day when solar is recognized as being as red, white and blue as it is green.
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.