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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jobs Surging in Solar

Need a job? Look up, young man, the sun is providing them a-plenty!

Jeff Spross reports that Solar Jobs Beat Out Ranchers In Texas, Actors In California, And Coal Miners Nationally.

California, the state that the Hollywood film industry calls home, can boast 43,700 paying jobs in the solar industry in 2012, versus only 32,300 paid actors. Texas clocked in with 3,200 solar jobs, in comparison to the state's 270 to 2,410 ranchers. And across the entire nation, 119,000 Americans were employed by the solar industry in 2012, versus only 87,500 by the coal mining industry.

A new interactive Solar Job Map identifies jobs across the nation. It was produced by The Solar Foundation. In their press release, they say:

The interactive map also presents information on the relative size of solar industry subsectors in each state and allows users to explore how their state measures up to others in terms of key solar policies, jobs per capita, and number of homes powered by solar energy. Thousands of data points from a combination of high-quality sources including TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012 and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar Database were analyzed via a dual methodology to develop the jobs estimates that are the focus of this unprecedented effort. 

“Our greatly-anticipated State Solar Jobs Map provides the most credible and comprehensive glimpse to date of solar employment at the state level,” said Andrea Luecke, TSF Executive Director. “These jobs figures demonstrate that the U.S. solar industry remains a powerful source of local job creation. In comparing our estimates with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find that California now has more solar workers than actors and that there are more solar jobs in Texas than there are ranchers. Economies of scale are also making our industry more labor efficient, requiring only one-third the number of workers to install a megawatt of solar today as it did in 2010.”  

The top ten states for solar jobs in 2012 were: California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, Texas, Michigan, and Ohio. In comparing solar employment estimates from today’s release with previous state figures that examined solar jobs in only a few states, six states – California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New York – are in the top ten for the third year in a row. Many of the highest-ranked solar jobs states are also those with the greatest cumulative installed capacity in the nation. 

“The Solar Foundation’s map illustrates that solar is an economic engine throughout the U.S., creating jobs from coast to coast,” notes Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Solar is the fastest-growing clean energy technology available today and employment in our industry has doubled over the past three years. Strong state solar policies, including renewable portfolio standards, third-party financing availability, and net metering have driven this tremendous state growth. Ensuring policy certainty throughout the U.S. will help to accelerate this trend and lead to more job creation where it’s most needed.” 

The map also demonstrates what has already been made apparent by global solar leaders such as Germany – that an abundant solar resource is not necessarily a prerequisite for a strong solar market. Only four states ranked in the top ten in terms of maximum solar resource are also top ten solar employment states. The remaining states (New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Ohio) all rank in the bottom 30% in the nation in terms of available solar resource. What all of the top ten solar jobs states do have in common, however, is a collection of policy tools designed to support renewable energy in general and solar in particular. 

The state solar jobs figures included in the map both reflect and underscore what is known about solar employment at the national level. According to TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012, 31% of employers indicated that component price declines were the greatest driver of company growth. The latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, published by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, shows that the top four solar jobs states (California, Arizona, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) all saw significant decreases in residential installed costs in 2012, with New Jersey and Massachusetts experiencing substantial declines in non-residential prices as well. 

"When I left the brownfield redevelopment business, I had three key criteria for what I wanted to do next:  to be part of creating a new market sector, to use my long corporate experience to help lead an emerging company's success, and to go home at night knowing that what I was doing meant something. The solar industry and Sungevity met those criteria in a big way.  I get to be a part of a market that's really taking off, shape a leading company's hiring decisions and employee culture, and know that clean energy works in ways that improve our lives now and in the future," said Susan Hollingshead, Sungevity's Chief People and Corporate Services Officer.