Help grow your local economy with solar energy
The financial benefits of going solar make a compelling argument for homeowners and businesses and the overall impact of solar on the economy is just as positive. The solar energy industry is a national industry that provides high-quality jobs across the country. As more homes and businesses go solar, job opportunities continue to grow. The American solar industry now employs more than a quarter of a million people, after a breakneck year that saw employment grow by a record 25 percent — and that growth is expected to continue into 2017, as low-cost solar panels nudge coal and natural gas out of the electricity marketplace.
Findings from The Solar Foundation’s 2015 Solar Jobs Census underscore that growth:
- Since 2010, solar industry employment has grown by 123 percent, reaching nearly 210,000 jobs in 2015. Employment is expected to grow by another 15 percent in 2016.
- 1.2 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. in 2015 were created by the solar industry.
- Nearly 10 percent of solar jobs in the country are held by veterans, a much higher proportion than in the overall economy.
“The solar industry currently has more (U.S.) workers than Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon combined,” said Andrea Luecke, the Solar Foundation’s executive director.
The clean energy economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low-and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole. Wages for solar jobs in the U.S. are also significantly higher than the U.S.: the median wage for a solar installer in 2014 was $20 per hour, compared to $17.09 across the total U.S. workforce.
Perhaps even more striking is a report released last month by the federal Department of Energy, comparing employment across different energy sectors. Using slightly different statistics than the Solar Foundation, the department found that the solar industry employs more people than coal, natural gas, and wind. Among energy sectors, only oil and petroleum employ more people than solar.
“These are well-paying jobs, these are family-sustaining jobs. And many positions have a low barrier to entry — you don’t have to have a bachelor’s education,” Luecke said. “It really does represent an opportunity for Americans in rural areas, and urban areas on the coast, and in the center of the country.”
But, these gains are in contrast to Trump’s support for fossil fuel production, his climate change denial and his belief that renewable energy is a “bad investment”.
“Trump’s current approach is basically ignoring an entire industry that has grown up over the last 10 years or so and is quite robust,” Liz Delaney, program director at EDF Climate Corps, told Business Insider.
Solar power is a key source of energy in the U.S., and as the cost of solar continues to fall, all signs point to it becoming an even larger part of the U.S. energy supply. That’s good news for the economy and the environment.
excerpts written by Sammy Roth writes about energy and the environment for The Desert Sun. @Sammy_Roth.