NC ranks 14th in number of solar jobs
10/20/10 by Juanita Teschner
North Carolina ranks 14th for the most solar-related jobs in the country, according to a new report from the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization.
Environment North Carolina (ENC), a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group, released the report, “National Solar Jobs Census 2010: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce.” This first-of-its-kind review of the solar workforce in the United States estimates that more than 1,000 people in North Carolina are employed by the solar industry.
Hiring in the solar workforce is on the rise, according to the census. More than half of solar employers nationally plan to increase their workforce in the next year. In North Carolina, jobs in the solar industry are expected to increase 37 percent in 2011.
“The sun generates more energy in an hour than all the coal mines and oil wells in the world do in a year. This report shows we are on the way to tapping the sun’s potential, generating pollution-free energy, and creating a tremendous number of green jobs along the way,” said Caroline Cress, ENC clean energy associate.
As of August, the National Solar Jobs Census 2010 identified more than 16,700 solar employment sites and 93,000 solar jobs in all 50 states. It also found that solar employers expect to increase the number of solar workers by 26 percent nationally, representing nearly 24,000 net new jobs by August 2011. This rate is significantly higher than both the expected three percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of two percent growth over the same period.
The National Solar Jobs Census 2010 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and Green LMI Consulting with technical assistance from Cornell University. “This is the first time anyone has tried to quantify solar jobs along the entire value chain by speaking directly with employers and projected with any certainty solar job growth over the next 12 months,” said Andrea Luecke, acting executive director of The Solar Foundation. “The fact that a national census is needed to examine the size and nature of the workforce signals that the solar industry is having a substantial and positive impact on the U.S. economy.”
Much of this growth in the solar industry was made possible by a federal policy called the Treasury Grant Program. The program, which allows solar companies to apply for cash grants in lieu of tax credits they would otherwise receive, was passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The incentive allows companies to continue to receive federal support for solar projects despite the rough economic climate, and is set to expire at the end of this year.