Solar power, once derided as an expensive and unreliable energy source, has become a major generator of employment in the United States, according to new data supplied by The Solar Foundation.
In its most recent annual report, Solar Jobs Census 2016, the foundation found that one out of every 50 jobs in the U.S. last year, was created by the solar industry – or 2% of all new jobs. Solar jobs have increased at least 20% over the past four years and have nearly tripled since the first Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010.
In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.
Of the 260,077 people employed in the solar industry in 2016, over half (52.7%) were involved in installation. Manufacturing represented 14.7% of solar employment, sales and distribution 12.4%, and project development 13.2% of the total. The most dramatic growth occurred in installation, which saw a 212% increase in the number of jobs between 2010 and 2016, according to the report. (see table and graph below)
Perhaps the most interesting finding, from a mining perspective, is how the number of solar jobs compares to other forms of electricity generation. Despite representing just 1.3% of US energy production, “Solar employs slightly more workers than natural gas, over twice as many as coal, over three times that of wind energy, and almost five times the number employed in nuclear energy. Only oil/petroleum has more employment (by 38%) than solar,” reads an executive summary. (see table below)
Other key findings: