U.S. solar industry employs more than coal, gas combined
Jan 31, 2014 - Sustainable Business News - greenbiz.com
The annual census of U.S. solar jobs is in — and as of 2013, the industry now employs about 143,000 Americans.
Over the past four years, the solar industry has added nearly 50,000 well-paying jobs, and 22,000 more are expected this year, too. The vast majority of solar jobs are in manufacturing and installation — 70 percent. Solar employment growth between 2010 and projected 2014 (Credit: The Solar Foundation)
"The study shows both aggressive hiring and clear optimism among U.S. solar companies," said Philip Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership, a partner in the research. "Of particular interest are the continued high wages among solar installers, who earn an average of $20 to $23.63 per hour. We also found higher than average employment of veterans in the solar industry, a sign that their high-tech skills are valued in this sector."
"We've barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen," said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, which created more than 2,000 jobs last year. He reminds us that when we "install solar panels, we create local jobs that can't be outsourced."
While high costs always have been the biggest problem for solar, that's also changing. Solar companies report that cost savings are driving clients' decision making. In fact, 51.4 percent say they are installing solar to save money, and 22.9 percent say they are doing so because costs are now competitive with utility rates.