If you’ve seen our article on solar industry members preparing for the Trump presidency then you’ll know there is real concern surrounding the future of solar in the U.S. Despite the concern, the solar industry is still rapidly growing in some of the more liberal parts of the country.
The U.S. solar industry to date has employed more than 250,000 people and after a tremendous year of 25 percent employment growth last year (which is expected to continue into 2017) it seems the industry is pretty much here to stay. The low cost solar panels have served to move coal and natural gas from their once dominant spot right under oil. California was ahead of every other state with 100,000+ solar jobs in 2016, according to a report released by the Solar Foundation.
That number jumped from near 75,000 solar jobs in 2015-that’s rapid growth for an emerging industry. On a national level, solar rose from 209,000 jobs in 2015 to 260,000+ in 2016 which is the largest growth the industry has seen in the seven years the Solar Foundation has been publishing it’s findings.
“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. Among energy sectors, only oil and petroleum employs more people than solar-with wind, coal, and natural gas being surpassed. This spells solar forever-unless something is done on the political front to fully disrupt the explosive growth.
The Solar Foundation’s report includes many more statistics that speak to the industry’s remarkable and rapid growth.
- Between November 2015 and November 2016, one in every 50 new jobs in the United States was created by the solar industry
- The solar industry added workers 17 times faster than the overall economy over that time frame
- There are now nearly three times as many people working in the solar industry as there were in 2010
Check this excerpt from Desert Sand:
In the Coachella Valley, rooftop solar installers keep adding employees.
Vincent Battaglia, chief executive of the Palm Desert-based Renova Solar, said his company added 23 employees last year, putting its workforce above 150. Nate Otto, president of Palm Springs-based Hot Purple Energy, said his company grew its workforce by 10 percent in 2016, and now employs about 35 people. Planet Solar, which is based in Santa Barbara and has an office in Palm Desert, grew its staff by 10 percent statewide, according to Jill Weiss, a regional sales consultant at the local office.
“Solar’s been growing every year, and we expect that to continue as people realize the economic value of solar,” Weiss said. “The first wave of solar installations was almost 10 years ago here in the Coachella Valley. We’ve got 10 years of data now, and people are really seeing the results of their neighbors and other people in their communities going solar. It’s becoming mainstream.”
The solar industry has aged, gone are the days where it was a commodity only afforded to the rich-it has reached the every day consumer through various programs and funding options. I’m extremely excited for the future of solar and will continue to chronicle the journey-with a watchful eye the next 4 years.