Growing Solar Tile Industry Creates New Jobs
For fifteen years now, since 2000, photovoltaics have been the fastest-growing renewable-energy technology. According to the International Energy Agency, photovoltaic solar tiles are likely to provide 16 percent of the world’s energy by 2050, up from only one percent at present. In the United States alone, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Administration, solar energy production has been more than doubling annually for over a decade. What does this astonishing trend mean in employment?
It means good news. In the United States, employment in the solar-energy sector is increasing 20 times faster than in the job market overall. One in every 78 new jobs last year was in the solar-energy field, the largest single category being solar roofing installations.
As to the quality of the jobs in this field, wages and working conditions are better than average. One indication of this is that over 90 percent of those working in solar energy work exclusively in solar energy. Nationally, the median wage for a solar photovoltaic installer is $19 an hour.
Solar energy currently employs upwards of 174,000 workers in installation, manufacturing, selling, and distribution. By a strange coincidence, 174,000 is the same as the total number of full-time workers involved in coal, counting miners, power-plant workers, and people employed in transport. This is, quite literally, a tipping point, the moment when the falling number of coal workers meets the rising number of solar-energy workers. For fifty years, changes in mining technology have been reducing employment in coal. The number of miners fell by ten percent last year. Across the solar industry, employment rose by nearly 22 percent during that time, with a similar increase projected for the coming year, according to an employer survey by The Solar Foundation. The number of solar roofing installers has doubled since 2010.
In California alone, 1672 solar companies employ 47,000 workers, up 3,500 from last year. Century Roof and Solar is proud to be part of this growing, sustainable, and valuable industry.