The solar industry has just hit a significant milestone. There are now more people employed in solar than the oil and gas industries. By the end of 2015, there were more than 209,000 people in the solar industry compared to 185,000 working in oil and gas related jobs.
This news, courtesy of The Solar Foundation – thesolarfoundation.org, is a part of the organization’s Solar Jobs Census and details some considerable solar growth. A key statistic is that the solar industry grew almost 12 times faster than the rest of the economy in 2015. Solar jobs accounted for 1.2 percent of all jobs created.
The industry added an impressive 35,000 jobs in 2015. This represents a growth of 20 percent over 2014 numbers.
Here are some key highlight from the report –
- One out of every eighty three new jobs were in solar – 1.2 percent of all new jobs.
- The industry provided high paying jobs with salaries ranging from $21 to $27 per hour on average.
- Diversity has increased within the industry. Women now make up 24 percent of those employed.
- A very high percentage of employees are given full time hours.
- An additional 610,650 ancillary jobs are supported because of solar.
- It is expected that the industry grows by another 15 percent by the end of 2016.
There are two major reasons why solar jobs are now leading oil jobs. The incredible growth in the solar industry is one reason. Another has to do with falling oil prices. Oil has fallen drastically the past 18 months. Prices going from $100 per barrel to $30 per barrel has hit the industry hard, forcing massive layoffs.
The largest percentage of these new solar jobs is in installation at approximately 120,000. This is 4 times the amount found in the next largest segment – manufacturing. Sales and Distribution, Project Development, and all others make up the last 60,000.
The Solar Foundation gathered data from more than 400,000 companies in the solar industry to develop their 2105 Census. This is a considerable collaboration from many construction and engineering, sales, and manufacturing companies.
Cost effective energy storage solutions will further propel the solar power industry. Solar will soon take its place as a primary source of energy once grid scale and distributed battery storage units are cost effective and viable.
These positive solar jobs numbers are just the beginning of major solar growth in the years to come.