Over the last several years we’ve heard a lot about solar energy; it’s renewable, good for the environment, and who doesn’t like sunshine? We’ve also heard about how solar is helping grow our economy. But, what exactly does that mean?
Well, let’s break it down and take a look at how the solar industry translates into jobs and the growth of our economy. Here are some great facts from some reliable sources about the solar energy industry in the United States.
The U.S. employed 142,698 solar workers in 2013; that was a 19.9 percent increase over 2012, according to the Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census 2013 report which was released in February 2014.
California led the nation in solar jobs last year employing 47,223 people.
The median pay for a solar photovoltaic installer is $18.22 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The projected job growth for the occupation from 2012-22 is 24 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations tracked by the bureau.
“The rapid expansion and adoption of solar panel installations will result in excellent job opportunities for qualified individuals, particularly for those with electrician experience.” – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states on its website.
According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report the U.S. installed 1,133 MW of solar PV in Q2 2014, up 21 percent over Q2 2013. SEIA also forecasts that PV installations will reach 5 GW in 2014, up 36% over 2013.
Residential installations continue to post the most consistent growth of any segment in the solar industry. California continues to lead the nation in residential solar installations, according to the GTM Research and SEIA report.
“The increasing value of solar installations has injected life into the U.S. economy as well. In 2013, solar electric installations were valued at $13.7 billion, compared to $11.5 billion in 2012 and $8.6 billion in 2011.” – The Solar Energy Industry Association.
Currently, more than 15,900 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity has been installed in the U.S.; that’s enough to power more than 3.2 million average American homes, according to SEIA. In the second quarter of 2014, there were more than 42,000 solar installations; that means there are more than half a million homes and businesses with solar power.
A new solar project has been installed every 3.2 minutes since the second quarter of 2014. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every hour, enough energy from the sun reaches Earth to meet the world’s energy usage for an entire year. The solar industry employs a variety of professionals including installers, administrative personnel, researchers, engineers, construction workers, solar power plant operators, maintenance workers, and more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That means, the solar industry isn’t just limited to blue collar jobs, but rather employs a range of workers from office workers to manual laborers.
At the end of the day it’s suffice to say that solar energy is helping to power our economy.