Solar Is the Choice for Power Jobs

Array of solar power photovoltaic cells.

Solar power jobs now outnumber coal mining jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics

What’s bright and shiny and rapidly overtaking the oil and gas industry? You guessed it: the solar industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the solar jobs sector employs 173,807 people – twice as many as coal, and rapidly closing the gap on oil and gas extraction (213,100 jobs, according to BLS). Here are a few more fun facts about solar’s shiny new year from TreeHugger:

  • Solar has added 80,000 jobs since 2010
  • Between 2013 and 2014, solar experienced a phenomenal 21.8 percent growth rate (compare this to the meager 1.1% “recovery” rate for U.S. business jobs in general)
  • The growth rate for the next 12 months is again expected to top 20 percent
  • Solar power could be the world’s top energy resource by 2050
  • How much free fuel is there for the United States in solar? More than 100 times our current power use.

Like Thomas Edison’s famous quote, I’m putting my money on solar (and wind, and other clean, renewable energy technologies) for the long run. The drop in solar prices is part of a long-term trend, not part of a burst carbon bubble that is reflective of temporary market insanity in the inevitable “peak oil” scenario.

Or, as PV Magazine says in response to a report from NC Clean Energy Technology Center funded by the Department of Energy, for customers in 46 of America’s 50 largest cities, “a typical solar PV system represents a better investment than the stock market.”

I like those odds.

Learn more about the solar energy technology program at Ecotech Institute.

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability “story teller.” In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.