Mar 01, 2016

Industry Highlight: Solar Energy Index

In today’s economy, solar is providing more jobs in the United Sates than oil rigs and gas fields combined. According to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Job Census, the industry added 35,000 jobs in 2015, bringing the U.S. solar workforce to nearly 209,000 total jobs. 

Solar Energy – Number of Establishments and Average Weekly Wage

Number of Establishments and Average Weekly Wage

Source: The Solar Foundation & BLS

Solar: The Future of Energy

The oil and gas extraction and pipeline construction industries have been showing losses, while the solar industry is beginning to boom. According to industry experts, the future of energy isn’t in fossil fuels or coal, but rather in renewable energy. The Paris Agreement, which aimed for a zero-carbon-emission economy to be established by the latter half of the 21st century, sent a signal to businesses that there was a global commitment to renewable energy, and that the world is moving away from traditional energy sources.

“The U.S. solar power industry continues to grow and create jobs, providing further evidence that promoting economic growth and fighting climate change can go hand-in-hand. The Solar Jobs Census helps fuel this progress by offering policymakers and investors the clean energy data they need to make informed decisions.” ~Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City

Opportunities Due to Solar Energy

While the growth of renewable energy will lead to job losses in some markets, it will create a wealth of opportunities in new areas. According to some experts, if the state of West Virginia were to change from coal energy to renewables, it would create 50,000 jobs over the next 20 years, as compared to the current 30,000 coal jobs in the region.

The current solar workforce is already larger than some well-established fossil fuel generation sectors, such as the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs last year and currently employs 187,200 workers. The solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people. According to The Solar Foundation, solar employers expect to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next 12 months. This expected increase of 14.7 percent would bring the total count of American solar workers to 239,625 by the end of 2016.

Employment in the Solar Energy Industry

Employment in the Solar Energy Industry

Source: The Solar Foundation & BLS

“The solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation. Employment in solar has grown an extraordinary 123 percent since 2010, adding approximately 115,000 well-paying jobs.” ~Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation