Breaking news: Over the weekend, sources from The Solar Foundation gave me some early numbers from the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census. There will be more data released at Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas, but here’s the early scoop:
As of August 2011, there are 100,237 solar workers in the U.S. in all 50 states.
Across the solar supply chain, from installers to balance of system (BOS) manufacturers, to yes, even solar PV manufacturers, that’s a 6.8% growth rate since August 2010.
In terms of exact numbers, there were net 6,735 new solar jobs created since August 2010.
When I say, “net,” my sources tell me that these numbers also accurately include the recent job losses from Solyndra and Evergreen.
Now, 6.8% job growth would be great for any industry in any year, but let’s put that in perspective of the overall economy:
According to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc’s EMSI Complete Employment, 2011.3 report, during the same period, from August 2010 to August 2011, the overall economy grew by 0.7%, giving a net increase of 1,219,347 new jobs economy wide, including the solar sector, of course.
More than Just a Solar Morale Booster
This solar jobs census data is more than just a morale boost to solar industry after the recent bankruptcies of Solyndra and Evergreen. These numbers are also a reflection that Obama’s clean energy initiatives have been and are working to grow jobs and the economy.
The Federal 1603 Treasury Grant program is working for American jobs.
The Federal 30% Investment Tax Credit, applicable to residential solar thanks to President Bush in late 2008, is working for American jobs.
The Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) is working for American jobs.
And yes, despite Solyndra going south, the now infamous 1703 loan guarantee program, was working for American jobs. In fact, according to reporting from a former Renewable Energy World editor Stephen Lacey, now at Climate Progress, Solyndra’s loan guarantee was just 1.3% of the Department of Energy’s overall loan portfolio, and Solyndra is the only loan that’s gone bad.
As Congress debates about what to do about growing more jobs in America, here’s data that says the President’s vision for green jobs is working. It would be short term thinking indeed for Congress to stop this momentum now.
In fact, the President, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Military have all been thinking long term, and rightfully so. The 6.8% single-year growth in solar jobs not only helps our immediate economy, it contributes to safe energy, it contributes to cleaner air, and it contributes to American energy independence.
As a nation, we have to stop the exclusive short-term energy thinking. For long and short-term thinking, strong solar policies mean:
More U.S. jobs that are safe for energy workers.
Energy that is progressively getting less expensive, not more expensive.
Energy that doesn’t risk lives, enviromental, and economic disasters, such as the BP oil spill, coal mine explosions and coal sludge spills, devastating gas pipeline explosions, unforeseen nuclear accidents, and water supply contamination from natural gas fracking.
Better health through decreased coal plant emissions pollution.
Actually addressing global warming instead of artificial doubt (video) and political delay.
An ever-growing green economy — given our overall lack of U.S. solar — and energy security that we don’t have to, drill, dig for or import. As long as the sun shines, solar’s going to be there.
Upgrading our last century energy infrastructure and implementing cost effective clean energy storage technologies, such as molten salt.
Creating more electric car charging stations, powered by solar, of course.
No other fossil fuel energy source that we know today can include all of those benefits above. Everything I’ve listed …