Solar Manufacturing and Installation Generate Jobs
Sharon Canavan, Community Relations Expert, OCC
For banks planning to invest in solar energy-producing facilities under the public welfare investment authority, one important factor in qualifying the investments is the potential for generating jobs for low- and moderate-income people. Increased employment in solar manufacturing and installation may help banks make that case.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that “among the renewable energy technologies, solar photovoltaic (PV) creates the most jobs per unit of electricity output.”6 Today, these jobs are concentrated in businesses manufacturing and installing solar energy systems.
A recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) report noted: “Corresponding to the strong growth in PV shipments, employment in photovoltaic-related activities increased more than 28 percent, from 1,245 person-years in 2008 to 14,443 person-years in 2009.”7
Figure 4: Employment in the Photovoltaic Manufacturing
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-63B, “Annual Photovoltaic Module/Cell Manufacturers Survey,” Solar Photovoltaic Cell/Module Manufacturing Activities 2009, table 3.16, January, 2011
Figure 4 does not reflect the number of jobs related to installing and maintaining solar facilities. As the number of PV installations increases, jobs will shift more heavily to ongoing operation and maintenance over the 20- to 25-year typical lifetime of a solar facility. Installation requires a trained work force with varying skill levels, including engineers, installer/technicians, solar system designers, general contractors, roofing contractors, welders, and pipe fitters.
According to the Solar Industry Foundation, as of August 2011, the U.S. solar industry employed an estimated 100,237 solar workers – defined as those workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting solar-related activities.8
6 2008 Solar Technologies Market Report, p. 40, U.S. Department of Energy, January 2010.
7 Solar Photovoltaic Cell/Module Manufacturing Activities 2009, January 2011, U.S. Energy Information Administration, p. 3.
8 National Solar Jobs Census 2011, The Solar Foundation.
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