The solar industry is experiencing a boom period that is unlike any that has been seen before. As consumers become increasingly aware of issues like the environment and their own carbon footprints, the demand for solar installations has increased as well. In fact, increased uptake of solar panels has led to the industry experiencing substantial growth over the last five years. This growth outstrips the growth of the United States economy by a substantial margin.
As demand has increased it is has become increasingly important for companies to ensure installation of solar panels creates as small a burden as possible. New technologies and methodologies have played a further part in increasing customer interest, which has led to further growth in the industry.
Current State of the Industry
Currently the industry employs more than 174,000 workers in a variety of roles. Installation is perhaps the largest and fastest-growing sector, however, jobs are also increasingly becoming available in research and information sectors as well.
The importance of these jobs should not be underestimated, as the continued growth of the industry may lie in creating more efficient solar technologies. Couple this with an increasing need for information relating to these technologies and it becomes clear that the industry is set to continue growing as new technology is brought to the fore.
General Industry Growth
As mentioned, the solar industry is growing by a rate that outstrips that of overall economic growth in the US. Figures obtained from The Solar Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that aims to increase understanding of solar technologies and research, indicate that the industry is growing at 20 times the rate of the economy. This makes solar one of the few industries in the country that is expanding during a period of economic difficulty.
The organization conducts a census relating to the industry every year. The 2014 survey supported these growth figures in addition to providing further figures demonstrating continued growth:
· The solar industry currently accounts for 1.3% of all jobs that are created in the United States.
· Censuses conducted over the last five years indicate the industry as a whole has grown by 86% during that period. This amounts to the creation of almost 80,000 jobs that provide a living wage.
This growth has not only made solar one of the most viable industries in the renewables sector, but has also made it one of the most attractive propositions for those who are looking for a new career in general. This means that there is a growing number of people who are training to fit solar panels, which goes towards meeting the ever-increasing demand.
Increased Commercial Uptake
The domestic market alone does not account for this growth. Businesses are also becoming increasingly aware of issues relating to their carbon footprint and many now consider their environmental policies to be an important marketing tool. This has led to an increasing uptake of solar amongst businesses.
Examples include the likes of The Daytona Rising project, which recently announced their intentions to incorporate a large-scale solar solution at the World Center of Racing. Other adopters of commercial-scale solar solutions include internationally recognized corporations such as IKEA and Walmart.
Greener energy not only gives such companies another arrow for their marketing bow, it also ensures that the companies can save money on their energy usage. This has played a large part in the continued growth of the solar industry and it is likely that even more jobs will be created as a result of this increasing commercial demand.
Increased Uptake in Schools
Perhaps as important is the increasing level of uptake by schools and other educational institutions. The Solar Foundation has released figures that claim more than 3,750 K-12 schools currently have a solar installation. While this is a small figure when compared to the 125,000 K-12 schools that are in the country, it also demonstrates that this particular area has plenty of development potential.
This potential is further demonstrated by these figures:
· The combined capacity of all of the current systems offsets around 50 million gallons of gasoline per year.
· As many as 72,000 schools would be able to make the switch to solar in a cost-effective manner.
· The electricity generated by the existing systems is equivalent to $77.8 million of utility bills.
Increased penetration into this sector could play an enormous part in helping the solar industry experience further advancement. This would, in turn, mean that even more jobs are created in the sector.
Furthermore academic institutions can play a large part in educating future generations about the importance of solar energy. As more schools adopt such systems it is to be expected that their students will become more educated in regards to solar power. This education could be passed to parents, thus increasing the domestic demand for the technology even further.
These factors and many more have led to projections about the advancement of the solar industry to come out extremely positively. It is believed that the growth the industry has experienced over the last five years will continue throughout 2015, leading to the industry becoming even larger.
As part of its 2014 census The Solar Foundation asked employers about their own opinions regarding their employment strategies for 2015. The compiled data indicated that employers expect there to be more than 210,000 people working in the industry by the end of year. This would be an improvement of almost 21% on the previous year.
To summarize, the solar industry is likely to continue on its current path as one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Increased interest on the domestic, commercial and public sector levels will combine to increase demand for installations. This will create a demand for additional personnel who are able to fit the panels, which will also mean that more jobs in the industry are created.
These projections indicate that solar power is here to stay and it is becoming an increasingly viable career prospect for tradespeople and those being introduced to the world of work alike.