The Solar Foundation releases a report on United States solar jobs every year. Its 2015 report was released today. The report showed that, as of November 2014, the US had 173,807 people employed in the solar sector. By now, the figure is surely over 174,000, as the growth rate is very fast. Compared to November of the previous year, US solar jobs were up 31,000, or 22%.
Putting this into some context, solar jobs grew 20 times faster than average US employment, which had a growth rate of 1.1%. Stunningly, 1 out of 78 new US jobs were solar jobs, or 1.3% of them. Furthermore, these are often jobs for highly skilled workers and provide good income.
“The solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “The solar sector has grown an extraordinary 86 percent in the last four years, adding approximately 81,000 jobs.”
Solar is often now the cheapest option for electricity. With zero fuel costs, most of the cost of solar power is in the technology (much of which is manufactured in the US and China) and for the installation of solar panels (which is mostly creating jobs where the solar panels are going).
The Solar Foundation notes that, “The solar installation sector is already larger than well-established sectors of fossil fuel generation, such as coal mining (93,185 jobs). The solar installation sector added nearly 50% more jobs in 2014 than the total created by both the oil and gas pipeline construction industry (10,529), and the crude petroleum and natural gas extraction industry (8,688). Solar employers are also optimistic about 2015, expecting to add another 36,000 jobs over the coming year.”
Despite what many politicians claim, it’s not clean energy or the economy — clean energy is a great way to boost the economy!
“The tremendous growth in the solar industry last year, including job growth that is outpacing the national average, is further evidence that we can clean our air and cut climate pollution while also growing the economy,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P., philanthropist and 108th Mayor of New York City. “The more data we have about the renewable energy industry, the better positioned policymakers and investors will be to make informed decisions. The Solar Jobs Census has the potential to help make that possible.”
A lot of the job growth is coming from residential solar and utility-scale solar, but a lot of it is also coming from commercial solar installations benefiting corporate leaders who are helping protect the climate and air while also saving money. 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist IKEA leads the pack in that regard, with the highest percentage of its rooftops and the highest percentage of its electricity coming from wind and solar energy.
“IKEA is proud of its installation of approximately 40MW of solar arrays atop nearly 90% of our U.S. locations,” said Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer, IKEA. “We are thrilled that our solar investment also helps contribute to a growing clean tech economy – and accelerate the creation of new solar jobs throughout the country.”
Solar power is the fastest growing energy industry in the US.
Originally published on Sustainnovate.