US: 13.2% annual solar jobs growth

02. November 2012 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Top News | By:  Jonathan Gifford

Figures released today by the Solar Foundation show that while job growth remains slow in much of the U.S. economy, the solar industry continues to shine – with 13.2% annual growth in the last year. The figures were measured in a census measuring employment growth in solar between September 2011 and September 2012.

A large scale PV park in the US.

While 13,872 new jobs were created in the solar industry in the survey period, 3,857 were shed in the fossil fuel electric generation industry.

The Solar Foundation, a Washington based nonprofit organization, has released the preliminary results from its National Solar Jobs Census for 2012. The census has shown that 13,872 new jobs have been added by the solar industry in the U.S., bringing the total number to 119,016. The annual growth rate of 13.2% for the solar industry compares favorably with an overall U.S. economy rate of 2.3% and -3.77% for fossil fuel electric generation industry, which shed 3,857 jobs in the same period.

Key drivers of the jobs growth, cited by the survey respondents, were the continuing decline in solar component prices, state legislation such as Renewable Portfolio Standards and the authorization of third-party system ownership – such as solar leasing. Federal tax incentives were also cited as a job growth driver.

"The census findings simply validate the continued boom in business growth that we have experienced over the past year," said Danny Kennedy, co-founder and president of lease provider Sungevity, in a statement. The Oakland, California, based company has expanded into six new states from 2011 to 2012.

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) president and CEO, Rhone Resch highlighted the importance of stability when it comes to federal investment credits, as being key in continuing solar job growth. "The rapid growth of jobs in the solar industry clearly demonstrates that smart policies, including the federal investment tax credit, are putting Americans back to work."

The full report will be released at the Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference on November 14, in Albany, New Jersey.

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