Solar Innovation Drives Job Growth

If there is any question that innovation drives job growth, The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census just released presents powerful data to support power of the solar economic engine. In these highlights from Solar Jobs Census 2016 you get a sense of the job growth:

  • One out of every 50 new jobs added in the U.S. in 2016 was created by the solar industry
  • Solar jobs in the U.S. increased at least 20% per year for the past four years
  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10 percent to 286,335 solar workers.

If the United States is committed to strong job growth where workers can support their families what we cannot do is ignore and stifle innovative industries. We can still discuss the long term energy policy that will best sustain the United States. We can disagree about the mix of fossil fuels vs. renewables that are optimal. But, we should agree on fostering job growth built on a foundation of American invention. Think of these innovations from a period of just 50 years and who they have driven economic growth. 

  • 1859 -- Discovery of petroleum in western Pennsylvania
  • 1868 -- G.L. Scholes's typewriter
  • 1875 -- G.F. Swift's refrigerated railway freight car
  • 1876 -- Alexander G. Bell sends first telephone message
  • 1877 -- Thomas A. Edison has a phonograph playing
  • 1879 -- George Selden's patent for a "gasoline carriage" granted
  • 1882 -- Edison's electric power plant starts operation in New York
  • 1903 -- The Wright brothers complete an airplane flight

Jump forward a hundred years and we are still innovating to drive our economy forward. The solar industry is a job creation engine and one that benefits our country as a whole. “It’s really a wide range of people that get hired into this industry," says George Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Swinerton Renewable Energy.  "Everybody from certified and licensed engineers to those who first learned about a solar project when we were building one in their area. A great aspect of this business is that it isn’t an exclusionary trade. It’s a teachable job that can create opportunity for people and give them a skill.” 

In addition, a 2016 Ernst & Young report shows that there are significant financial gains to be had as major renewable and solar indices outperformed broader market and traditional energy stocks over the past four years. The average annual expected ROI is estimated at 6.6% to 10.1% over the next 35 years. With solar investments having key structural benefits because of lower resource risk, technology risk, lower operating and maintenance cost, as well as shorter construction lead times provides an attractive investment for capital markets. 

SMASHsolar is fundamentally committed to breaking down barriers to solar adoption and using our innovation to fuel economic growth. With technology like SMASHmount, which enables more people to participate in the boom, job growth will continue. The economic potential of the solar and clean energy industries is immense.