The Solar Energy Boom is Creating Thousands of New Jobs

Solar power is on the rise. You can see the evidence on rooftops and in the desert, where utility-scale solar plants are popping up. The picture is not all rosy, but if the recent past is any indication, solar power is going to help lead the transition to a carbon-free future, and it might do it faster than we all expected. Elon Musk and Tesla promised solar roof tiles in 2016, but the industry might not need an upgrade as its grown significantly with the solar panels currently available. You can see the evidence both on individual rooftops and in the utility-scale solar plants increasingly popping up in deserts across the country. In the United States, of all about 30% of the new power capacity added to the grid in 2018 was from solar. But the picture is not all rosy. Solar power (and sunshine) is intermittent and the price of lithium ion batteries, one of the most popular current storage solutions, is still relatively high. These are real problems that the industry needs to tackle if solar is going to reach its potential. However, if the recent past is any indication, solar power is going to help lead the transition to a carbon-free future, and it might do it faster than we all expected. The production of energy through the sun’s power is steadily increasing. In some parts of the world solar power has become even cheaper than fossil fuels, like oil or natural gas. At the moment the world’s production of solar power is at about 140 gigawatts and moving steadily upward. In the near future up to five percent of the world’s energy could come from the sun. Solar power is probably the cleanest form of energy. There is no pollution, and it does not contribute to global warming. While, for a long time, solar power was an energy form that only industrialized countries could afford, it has now come to South America and Asia. China is currently the biggest producer of solar panels. It has been producing solar cells and photovoltaic systems on a large basis, making them cheaper to install. As technology becomes more and more affordable, prices go down. More and more people around the world are putting up small photovoltaic systems on their roofs. Many governments are subsidizing solar power by giving tax breaks to people who put solar panels on their roofs. Germany and Japan are the number one countries when it comes to solar power. The governments there have introduced programs to get people to invest in solar energy. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced drastically. In Japan there are even solar panels floating on the man-made lakes of a dam. Solar power is opening up new opportunities for developing countries. Many of these countries would have to wait for a long time to get enough electricity. The sun’s energy does not only provide us with light and heat. As solar cells are becoming more efficient solar power has become a source of energy for many devices and machines, from cell phones to cars, ships and airplanes. The solar energy boom is also creating tens of thousands of new jobs every year. Currently, about 1.3 million people are working in the solar power business, over 400 000 in China alone. All in all, solar power will definitely be the number one alternative energy form of future decades. America now has over 242,000 solar workers, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2018. These jobs are providing clean, affordable, renewable energy in all 50 states. As of 2018, the National Solar Jobs Census found: The United States has 242,343 solar workers, defined as those who spend 50% or more of their time on solar-related work. Solar employment declined by nearly 8,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent, since 2017. Overall, the solar workforce has grown 159 percent since the first Census was released in 2010, adding nearly 150,000 jobs. Solar jobs increased in 29 states in 2018, including many states with emerging solar markets. States with the highest employment gains include Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New York State. With a backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states, the outlook for solar jobs is expected to improve in 2019. Survey respondents predict that solar jobs will increase 7 percent in 2019, bringing the total to 259,400 jobs. The National Solar Jobs Census also includes: A detailed analysis of the solar workforce by industry sector (installation and project development, manufacturing, wholesale trade and distribution, operations and maintenance, and other) — and by market segment (residential, non-residential, and utility-scale). A demographic analysis of women, people of color, and veterans in the solar workforce. The latest information on wages, hiring trends, education and experience requirements, and other workforce development resources. For the first time, the 2018 Census includes jobs data for Puerto Rico, which has 1,997 solar workers. With Puerto Rico jobs included, the total number of U.S. solar jobs comes to 244,340. The renewable energy industry has become a major U.S. employer. E2’s recent Clean Jobs America report found nearly 3.3 million Americans working in clean energy – outnumbering fossil fuel workers by 3-to-1. Nearly 335,000 people work in the solar industry and more than 111,000 work in the wind industry, compared to 211,000 working in coal mining or other fossil fuel extraction. Clean energy employment grew 3.6% in 2018, adding 110,000 net new jobs (4.2% of all jobs added nationally in 2018), and employers expect 6% job growth in 2019. E2 reports the fastest-growing jobs across 12 states were in renewable energy during 2018, and renewable energy is already the fastest-growing source of new U.S. electricity generation, leading the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to forecast America’s two fastest-growing jobs through 2026 will be solar installer (105% growth) and wind technician (96% growth). The Solar Foundation reports solar jobs increased in 29 states during 2018 with more than 20% job growth in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. While solar jobs fell 3% nationally due to Trump administration panel import tariffs, the solar industry added nearly 150,000 news jobs since 2010 and expects employment to increase 7% in 2019. Clean energy jobs offer higher wages than the national average, and are widely available to workers without college degrees, according to new Brookings Institution research. Landing a clean energy job can equal an 8%-19% increase in income, and 45% of all workers in clean energy production (e.g. electricians, installers, repairers, and power plant operators) have only a high school diploma, while still receiving higher wages than similarly educated peers in other industries.

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