Power Position: Solar Jobs Are on the Rise

By Dorothy Davis

A recent study shows that the solar sector is hiring – and will continue to do so

It is almost impossible when hearing the words renewable energy not to immediately summon to mind the image of a towering wind turbine or a vast field of photovoltaic cells harnessing the sun; and rightly so. Renewables have been enjoying a considerable upswing in development, especially within the United States, where opportunities to establish a career within these emerging green sectors are on the rise. 

Positioned to Grow

The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization, recently examined the solar workforce within the US through a first-of-its-kind industry census that yielded a highly positive outlook for continued growth.

The Solar Foundation’s comprehensive report, “National Solar Jobs Census 2010,” discovered 16,700 solar job sites and more than 93,000 people employed in all 50 states as of August 2010.

The census also revealed that in spite of recent economic woes in the US, hiring within the solar industry is anticipated to rise. According to the report, solar employers expect to increase their workforce by an astounding 26 percent next year – which translates to nearly 24,000 new jobs.

"This first-ever national census shows that solar jobs are on the rise and expected to grow 26 percent in the coming year," said Andrea Luecke, acting executive director of The Solar Foundation. "By examining the data from thousands of companies along the entire supply-chain, the study shows that the solar industry is having a substantial and positive impact on the U.S. economy."

Stimulated Support

The Obama administration has shifted a considerable amount of focus to renewable energy by investing billions to help research and establish resources, such as solar power, as viable long-term alternative resources.

US Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, commented, “Among other things, this study shows that investments made through Recovery Act – including the $2.3 billion in tax credits to US based clean energy manufacturing – are already generating positive results.”

Solis continued, “The solar energy sector is an increasingly important source of good jobs for Americans. Fostering the growth of this emerging industry will help protect our environment, ensure the US remains competitive in the global economy, and offer great opportunities for the nation’s working families.”

Recently, Good Morning America featured solar contracting and financing companies CalFinder and SunRun. The program detailed how companies like these were helping to bring solar power to the masses by providing consumers with information and reduced costs.

It was not long ago that the cost of solar energy was simply too prohibitive for most homeowners. As the industry has grown, high initial costs have been reduced through a myriad of newly available financing options and substantial rebate incentives, making solar energy more accessible than ever to Americans.

With continued support from the government spurring investors and a rapidly broadening availability of this renewable energy to the larger consumer market, the future looks sunny for jobs in the solar industry.

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