BY Roy L Hales
The Solar Foundation has just launched its interactive “State Solar Jobs 2013.” This is a state by state database, which shows the growth of solar jobs in 2013 and gives predictions for 2013.
“Our state solar jobs research this year clearly shows that solar energy can be harnessed anywhere, and that growth rates are not necessarily associated with geography, total amount of sunshine, or political party,” said Andrea Luecke, Executive Director and President of The Solar Foundation.
General trends to note:
- The US solar sector employs 142,698 workers, most of which are installers and working with photovoltaics.
- 90% of the states increased their solar jobs in 2013
- There are over 25,000 solar jobs in New England, despite the fact this is not one of America’s sunniest regions. The number of jobs in New York and Massachusetts grew by 50%
- The number of solar jobs doubled in Georgia and North Carolina. Together with Texas and Louisiana, they employed 22,000 solar workers last year
California continues to lead the country, with 47,223 people working in the solar industry and another 10,500 expected to be hired this year. More than half of these jobs are in the installation business, with wages averaging $24.26 an hour. Roughly 15.5% are in sales and 9.5% in manufacturing. The Greater San Francisco Bay area is home to nearly half of California’s solar workers, while another 21% are found in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties.
Arizona is the nation’s #2 solar state but, despite a stellar 2012 in which 720 megawatts (MW) were installed, the industry is contracting. More than 1,200 workers have been laid off and the amount of installed PV capacity is expected to drop by 40%. Several reasons have been given: political uncertainty, an overly rapid expansion (in which too many competing firms were hiring) and completion of the Solana CSP facility. Despite this, a third of the firms contacted said they expected to be hiring in 2014.
“Under Governor Deval Patrick’s leadership, Massachusetts has seen tremendous growth across the cleantech sector and the solar industry is booming,” said Rick Sullivan, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “This report reflects the increased demand for solar energy supported by nation-leading renewable energy policies. As we work to create jobs and foster innovation, we are also reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on traditional energy sources.”
There are 864 solar workers in Minnesota. This is a result of the state’s new solar electricity standard, which requires investor owned utilities to derive at least 1.5% of their electricity from solar by 2020. Rooftop solar owners that feed the grid are receiving between $0.13-$0.18 per kilowatt-hour (for commercial customers) to $0.29-$0.39/kWh for residential customers. These aggressive policies have prompted the solar industry to grow 73% since September 2012, which shows what solar can do in a state whose climate is not normally thought of as prime solar territory.
There are 2,000 solar jobs in Washington, whose renewable portfolio must supply 15% of the state’s power by 2020.
These are just a few of the goodies that are waiting on the Solar Foundation’s state job’s map http://thesolarfoundation.org/solarstates