Clean Power energy incentives

Published on May 7th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


US Solar Industry Could Employ 200,000 to 430,000 by 2020

May 7th, 2012 by  

Last year, we wrote about the US solar industry surpassing 100,000 jobs. With the industry expected to grow many times over in the coming years, especially with strong policy support, that number could grow substantially. A new independent research report released last week (while I was on my first little vacation in a couple years) has found that the industry could support hundreds of thousands of US jobs by 2020 (200,000 to 430,000 depending on various factors).

The report, “Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment,” was conducted by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Commenting on the report, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) noted: “according to the report, diffusion of solar energy technology in the energy markets is very similar to the paths that many American industries have traveled to become mainstream. Unlike more mature technologies, however, that continue to receive subsidies, solar energy is currently in a very early phase of its growth trajectory.”

The small but loud group of individuals, industries, and politicians opposed to solar like to act as if solar is getting unfair subsidies from the government. This is completely absurd for many reasons, as I recently discussed, but one of the reasons I didn’t focus on in that article was actually the focus of this new report: historically, the US government has subsidized the energy sector and this has been important for the nation’s economic growth, and its support for solar is just continuing that trend. “We find that solar energy is following the same incentive-driven path as other traditional energy sources before it, consistent with the government’s decision to incentivize energy production for a variety of policy purposes,” the report states. Of course, this support offers many rewards. “We also conclude that the federal investment in solar energy could bring about a number of tangible benefits, including increased employment, global business opportunities, and energy supply diversity.”

Here are a few good charts from the report:

Will this report change the minds of the coal industry, nuclear industry, natural gas industry, or the politicians in their pockets? I don’t think so. However, it’s yet more independent guidance encouraging us to continue giving solar the boost it deserves.

Some more good comments and summarizing from SEIA:

The report finds that traditional fuels have been subsidized for decades – some like coal and oil for a century – and followed similar growth trajectories toward majority adoption.  According to the Baker Center report, every significant energy resource deployed in the U.S. today has had approximately 30 years of innovation and early adoption before beginning rapid growth that brought about mainstream adoption.

The report also finds that solar energy has yielded significant public benefits in exchange for federal support.  Earlier federal energy policy has helped maintain competition, provide for national security, promote economic development, meet public health and environmental quality standards, and increase energy security.

Additionally, the report points out that solar energy benefits the U.S. energy portfolio by decreasing the impact of supply disruptions and price volatility of other sources of energy. It is also notes that solar power is most efficient during periods of high demand, providing lower cost peak power rates for consumers.

Let’s keep supporting solar so that we can look back on the 100,000+ Americans employed today at 5,600 solar energy companies as just the beginning, and so that the record-breaking solar growth we are seeing continues at such a fast pace! 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • New natural gas generation will increase by 22 GW in the next ten years. This will create many more long term jobs and reliable energy.. Solar will be a minute percentage in comparison. It’s time to stop the corporate welfare to wind and soar.

    • Ross

      You’re clearly misinformed. Wind and Solar are going to add a lot more than that to the US grid in the next decade and in another 10 years it will be so mainstream that people like you will be pretending they always supported renewables.

  • Ross

    Some nice graphs there.

  • Captivation

    Obama should be talking about this every time the GOP claims that there are no jobs in green energy. Even if it can’t penetrate the wall of conservative propaganda, it still needs to be in the public record so that future generations can look back and see which politicians were honest.

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

  • Search the IM Network