• The Solar Industry: An American Success Story

    It’s been a good couple of years for the solar industry.  Thanks to a slew of US federal government solar financial incentives and tax credits, plus a 60% drop in the price of solar panels since 2006, more homeowners than ever have been able to afford solar.  This has lead to a huge spike of installations, making Q3 of 2016 the biggest ever for solar with 4GW installed – equaling out to a new installation every 84 seconds, and a huge demand for solar jobs.

    This growth has consequentially created a new American economic driver, growing an industry that now supplies 1 in every 50 new American jobs.  In 2016, a study by The Solar Foundation found that there were around 260,077 solar workers in the US, up 25% from the previous year.  Compare that job growth rate to that of American jobs in general, up 1.45% in the same year, and it’s clear that solar is quickly becoming a more relevant and viable job-creating industry. 

  • In light of recent worries about the disappearance of jobs in other areas of the energy sector like coal, solar also provides a glimpse of hope, as the industry now supplies more than double the amount of jobs than the coal industry.  41 percent of solar jobs are in residential solar, and workers are paid an average of $26 an hour, a substantial wage for a construction job.  These residential solar companies also staff teams of salespeople, marketers, and administration staff, providing jobs for professionals from many different fields.

    This growth isn’t just in California and Nevada either.  Solar companies have been popping up all over the US, as more and more consumers, and entrepreneurs, open up to the benefits of solar.  North Carolina for example, saw a 187% growth in solar capacity in 2015, and is currently home to 206 solar companies that employ over 5,000 people.  While many states are slow to catch on, solar will obviously be an inevitable force in the energy sector nationwide in the near future. 

  • So it’s easy to see that solar has recently become a powerful economic engine in the United States, and that it is supplying jobs and creating economies in places that crucially need them.  As long as government incentives and technology continue to make solar more affordable for homeowners, the industry should continue to grow, and as a result, thousands of jobs will be created. 

  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.