Solar jobs map update: 29 states see solar jobs increase, despite nationwide decline

The Solar Foundation today released an updated map on the number of solar jobs in every state, metropolitan area, county, and congressional district, revealing the geographic distribution of America’s 250,271 solar jobs. The interactive map can be viewed at SolarStates.org.

The new solar jobs map is a follow up to the National Solar Jobs Census 2017, the eighth annual report on America’s solar workforce issued by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research organization. Along with the map, The Solar Foundation released 52 fact sheets on the solar workforce in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2017 found that nationwide, solar employment declined 3.8 percent, from 260,077 jobs in 2016 to 250,271 in 2017. At the same time, solar jobs increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in major metropolitan areas throughout the nation. This growth took place in many states with emerging solar markets, such as Minnesota, Utah, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and others.

Solar Foundation jobs

“Our solar jobs map shows that many states and cities bucked the national trend and enjoyed significant jobs growth in 2017,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “As solar technologies rapidly become more affordable and abundant, solar jobs nationwide have nearly tripled since 2010. These jobs are in solar installation, project development, sales and marketing, manufacturing, engineering, and many other skill areas. In the future, states and localities should look to solar as a key strategy for building local economies and supporting high-quality careers.”

California remained the state with the leading number of solar jobs in 2017 (86,414), though jobs in the state declined 14 percent from 2016. Among states that saw solar job growth, the state that added the most jobs in 2017 was Utah, followed by Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey, and New York.

Metro area analysis

Metropolitan areas and counties in diverse parts of the country saw significant job growth in 2017. The metro area with the highest total number of solar jobs was San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California, at 24,474 jobs, though employment declined 6 percent from 2016. Some of the metro areas where jobs grew significantly in 2017 include greater Provo-Orem, Utah (3,798 total jobs), New York-North New Jersey-Long Island, New York (12,038 jobs); Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn. (3,803 jobs); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (7,204 jobs); and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (2,319 jobs).

Other metropolitan areas that saw job growth in 2017 include greater Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; and Detroit, Michigan, among others.

“We are very excited to see so much solar job growth in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia has taken several steps to expand solar development, including our work to achieve SolSmart Gold designation, and launching the Solarize Philly program. We are committed to reducing citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 and transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy future. A solid solar workforce is key to achieving those goals.”

“We believe the transition to a clean energy future is one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century for cities to improve community health, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and a vibrant and robust economy,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Our city is proud to be a part of growing solar jobs here in Florida and we remain committed to helping lead the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Data for the National Solar Jobs Census is based on a rigorous survey of solar establishments conducted between October and November 2017. The Census defines a solar employee as someone who spends at least 50 percent of his or her time on solar-related work.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar jobs map update: 29 states see solar jobs increase, despite nationwide decline

The Solar Foundation today released an updated map on the number of solar jobs in every state, metropolitan area, county, and congressional district, revealing the geographic distribution of America’s 250,271 solar jobs. The interactive map can be viewed at SolarStates.org.

The new solar jobs map is a follow up to the National Solar Jobs Census 2017, the eighth annual report on America’s solar workforce issued by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research organization. Along with the map, The Solar Foundation released 52 fact sheets on the solar workforce in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2017 found that nationwide, solar employment declined 3.8 percent, from 260,077 jobs in 2016 to 250,271 in 2017. At the same time, solar jobs increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in major metropolitan areas throughout the nation. This growth took place in many states with emerging solar markets, such as Minnesota, Utah, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and others.

Solar Foundation jobs

“Our solar jobs map shows that many states and cities bucked the national trend and enjoyed significant jobs growth in 2017,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “As solar technologies rapidly become more affordable and abundant, solar jobs nationwide have nearly tripled since 2010. These jobs are in solar installation, project development, sales and marketing, manufacturing, engineering, and many other skill areas. In the future, states and localities should look to solar as a key strategy for building local economies and supporting high-quality careers.”

California remained the state with the leading number of solar jobs in 2017 (86,414), though jobs in the state declined 14 percent from 2016. Among states that saw solar job growth, the state that added the most jobs in 2017 was Utah, followed by Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey, and New York.

Metro area analysis

Metropolitan areas and counties in diverse parts of the country saw significant job growth in 2017. The metro area with the highest total number of solar jobs was San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California, at 24,474 jobs, though employment declined 6 percent from 2016. Some of the metro areas where jobs grew significantly in 2017 include greater Provo-Orem, Utah (3,798 total jobs), New York-North New Jersey-Long Island, New York (12,038 jobs); Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn. (3,803 jobs); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (7,204 jobs); and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (2,319 jobs).

Other metropolitan areas that saw job growth in 2017 include greater Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; and Detroit, Michigan, among others.

“We are very excited to see so much solar job growth in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia has taken several steps to expand solar development, including our work to achieve SolSmart Gold designation, and launching the Solarize Philly program. We are committed to reducing citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 and transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy future. A solid solar workforce is key to achieving those goals.”

“We believe the transition to a clean energy future is one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century for cities to improve community health, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and a vibrant and robust economy,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Our city is proud to be a part of growing solar jobs here in Florida and we remain committed to helping lead the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Data for the National Solar Jobs Census is based on a rigorous survey of solar establishments conducted between October and November 2017. The Census defines a solar employee as someone who spends at least 50 percent of his or her time on solar-related work.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar Saves Lives campaign launches to power Puerto Rico’s critical energy infrastructure

puerto rico solar

The Solar Foundation is partnering with the Clinton Foundation, major humanitarian organizations, and a wide range of solar energy companies to mount an industry-wide relief effort to help restore electricity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new effort, Solar Saves Lives, will organize deliveries of solar and solar + storage technologies to power critical infrastructure in disaster-impacted regions. These donations are being made at the request of governments in the region, and will be given directly to fulfill specific needs on the ground, as assessed by local officials and relief organizations.

The effort launches with more than $5 million in solar equipment donations from more than 20 companies and organizations, including Sunrun, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, the SunSpec Alliance, CAM Solar, Carolina Solar Energy, Solight, Renogy, Campervan HQ, and Prana Power, among many others. The equipment ranges from portable solar equipment such as lanterns and cell chargers, to larger equipment such as solar refrigeration units, solar water purification units, and equipment for large-scale solar installations. Several companies have also committed to monetary donations, including corporate matches, launching employee giving campaigns, and hosting fundraisers.

“Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Caribbean, people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still in urgent need of assistance. The solar equipment donated through this effort will save lives by aiding recovery efforts, providing power for people in remote areas, and solarizing critically needed services like refrigeration and medical care,” said President Bill Clinton. “I’m so grateful for the commitments of all the solar companies and relief organizations who are part of this effort, and I’m proud that the Clinton Foundation could bring these groups together.”

Powering Puerto Rico: Solar industry helps restore, maintain power post hurricanes

Solar Saves Lives will coordinate transportation of solar equipment directly to affected areas, working with partners to coordinate shipping and distribution and ensure proper installation and service. One immediate priority is to restore power in two food markets in the heart of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which provide a critical food source for vulnerable populations. A second priority will be 62 rural medical clinics in Puerto Rico — many of which remain closed due to lack of power after the storms. Solar Saves Lives is also prepared to respond to other areas of need, particularly around health and safety.

The Solar Saves Lives effort solicits contributions from the solar industry, and the SolarSavesLives.org website also accepts donations from the general public, as both product donations and monetary donations are urgently needed.

Among many other commitments, Sunrun is contributing approximately 25,000 pounds of solar equipment to help power food markets and medical centers. Solight is contributing 10,000 innovative solar lights that can be distributed throughout the affected areas for immediate relief. CAM Solar has pledged to raise $10,000 through a fundraiser with the nonprofit Good Party ATX.

“With battery storage, solar power is the resilient, low-cost energy solution of the future,” said Lynn Jurich, co-founder and CEO of Sunrun. “Alongside Solar Saves Lives, Sunrun is proud to provide the immediate relief of clean, reliable power that will last for decades to come.”

Items that are being sought most urgently include portable solar equipment, such as lanterns and cell chargers; containerized or cabinetized generations, such as solar refrigeration units, solar pumping units, and solar water purification units; and components for system installations including modules, inverters, battery banks, and charge controllers. Modular systems with storage that can be rapidly deployed are the most urgently needed.

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Study shows where solar industry diversity falls short

solar jobs

Not a newsflash: White guys have it better than women and people of color when it comes to job opportunities and pay. What is noteworthy is the new research from The Solar Foundation in partnership with the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Women’s Empowerment Committee that provides statistically significant evidence of the hurdles that still need to be overcome, even in an industry as seemingly progressive as solar.

The 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study is the first comprehensive study on diversity of the U.S. solar energy industry. Findings show that racial diversity within the industry has remained relatively stagnant over recent years, and that all people of color, particularly women, are at risk of being left behind as the solar workforce continues its rapid growth trajectory. Of the major findings, only 8 percent of African American respondents reported that they have successfully moved up the career ladder, and 50 percent think they have not been successful in moving up in their careers and feel “stuck” in their current positions.

Men are significantly more likely to earn wages that fall in the highest wage bracket of $75 or more per hour. 36% of white male respondents earn salaries in this wage bracket, compared to 28% of men of color, 21% of white women, and only 4% of women of color.

Among other findings, just over a quarter of solar employers formally track employee demographics and diversity and just over 1 in 10 companies (11.5 percent) has implemented a strategy to increase the representation of veterans at their firms. Meanwhile, 14 percent of companies have a strategy in place to increase female workforce representation, and 7 percent have a strategy in place to increase representation of non-white communities.

As Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, noted during the opening session of Solar Power International, this isn’t just some push for inclusiveness because it’s a nice thing to do (which would be a perfectly fine reason) but also because stats back up a more diverse work place being more successful and productive.

“We know from decades of research that diversity is strongly correlated with financial performance across businesses. In the face of tremendous workforce growth, it is critical to create a solar culture that welcomes, encourages, and advances equity and inclusion. The opportunity cost is too great,” said Kristen Graf, Executive Director of WRISE: Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy. “We need as many diverse ideas, minds, backgrounds, perspectives, and talents as we can get at all levels across the industry. This study has shown clearly that we are falling short, especially with women of color. Now that we have this important starting point, we can and must do better.”

The path forward

The 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study underscores the importance of diversity for employee well-being, strength of the workforce, and a company’s bottom line. The report also identifies a broad set of recommendations that solar companies can adopt to improve diversity. The action steps for solar companies include creating company-wide diversity pledges, establishing a formal diversity tracking and measurement tool, broadening recruitment efforts, implementing a “blind” job application process, and establishing diversity training programs.

“Just like having a diverse portfolio of energy resources is critical to our nation, so is having a diverse workforce,” said Julia Hamm, Smart Electric Power Alliance President and CEO. “The path towards a clean energy future can be best met when the industry reflects all of the customers it serves. The Solar Foundation’s Solar Industry Diversity Study provides a baseline, and now it’s on the rest of us to attract and retain the best possible ideas and talent by seeking out women and minorities for employment and advancement throughout our organizations.”

Props to the solar industry for producing such a study and holding itself accountable.

— Solar Builder magazine

Head to The Solar Foundation’s Summer Solstice networking fundraiser (promo code for discount here)

Summer Solstice solar party

Join Solar Builder at The Solar Foundation’s 7th annual Summer Solstice. This fundraiser brings together partners, allies, and friends to enjoy a beautiful summer night in Washington, D.C. and celebrate the benefits of solar energy. On the evening of June 22, celebrate and network with leaders in policy, government, industry, nonprofit, legal, and other fields for an upscale cocktail hour, panel discussion, and rooftop reception.

Hogan Lovells, LLP
June 22
5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

You can find more details on the Summer Solstice website

But be sure to use our discount code for 10% off: SB+TSF2017

This year’s Solstice guests will be treated to a variety of hors d’eouvres, complimentary drinks, twilight views of the DC skyline, and the opportunity to meet and network with leaders in the solar and clean energy sector.

This year, Solstice will feature an exclusive panel with:

  • Mary Powell, President & CEO, Green Mountain Power
  • Jigar Shah, President & Co-Founder, Generate Capital
  • Roger Ballentine, President, Green Strategies Inc.

All proceeds benefit The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing solar energy use worldwide. We believe that increasing access to this clean, abundant, and affordable energy source will lift up people’s lives and bring about a prosperous future for all.

— Solar Builder magazine