Big Additions to U.S. Solar Jobs in 2014

The end of any year always gives us heaps of new information about industry trends: the big gains, the big losses (hopefully not), who’s hot, who’s not, etc. A particularly interesting year-end report on the current state of solar energy-related jobs the U.S. is providing even more fuel to the proverbial fire for those seeking an expanded use of solar energy. According to the 2014 National Solar Jobs Census[1], a report released last month by The Solar Foundation, the solar industry has had yet another banner year in terms of adding domestic jobs to the U.S. economy.

solar MW growth

So how many jobs are we talking?

In the last 5 years, the industry has reached almost 174,000 jobs, an 86% increase from 2010, which makes sense when you consider installed capacity has increased by over 700% in the same time frame. As of November 2014, 31,000 new solar-related jobs were added last year alone, accounting for 1.3% of all new jobs in the U.S.

increase in solar jobs for 2014

What about big oil and gas?

So how does this stack up against solar’s very distant energy cousins in the fossil fuel industries you might ask? Despite solar being a David to these industries’ Goliath at only 1% of total U.S. electricity generation, solar added more jobs in 2014 than the oil and gas pipeline construction (~10,500 jobs) and crude petroleum and natural gas extraction (~8,700 jobs) industries combined. The report goes on to project an almost 21% increase for solar jobs in 2015 as well.

Future of ITC and beyond…

All this is great for headlines (not to mention the economy) but the big question on everyone’s mind is what will happen at the end of 2016 when the current 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) expires (see Heidi’s recent post for more info on current ITC). The solar ITC is slated to be reduced to 10% starting 2017 and, according to The Solar Foundation’s report, about 60% of current solar industry employers are anticipating job cuts following the reduction. The good news is programs like the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative are making big-time investments aimed at bring solar to grid parity.

 

[1] http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/national-solar-jobs-census-2014/

 

About Evan Merkel


Evan Merkel is a Renewable Energy Engineer from Baltimore, MD. He loves the smell of PV in the morning. He can be contacted at emerkel@antaresgroupinc.com.

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