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Published on October 30th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

61

5 Solar Growth Markets That May Surprise You…

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October 30th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan 

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

You probably know which states have been strong solar growth states over the past several years — California, Hawaii, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina…. But below are 4 states and one city that are picking up some serious steam in the solar power arena (can I use “pick up steam” with solar PV?), and that you probably wouldn’t guess are primed to become solar leaders.

GTM Research, which revealed these at Solar Power International last week, has termed them “hidden growth opportunities.” GTM Research projects a total of over 1 gigawatt (1 billion watts) of solar PV demand in these markets between the second half of this year (2013) and 2016. That’s a lot. Solar panel suppliers are going to love these 5 markets.

So, let’s very quickly check out these hot (or soon to be hot) solar markets (in no particular order):

1. Minnesota

Not exactly the sunniest state in the US, state requirements that utilities get 1.5% of their electricity from solar power and 10% from distributed, small-scale power generation systems (systems 20 kilowatts or smaller, such as home solar systems), as well as net metering (which allows solar power producers to sell their electricity back to the grid at retail electricity prices) for systems up to 1 megawatt (MW) in size, could help boost Minnesota’s solar power capacity from about 13 MW today to about 450 MW by 2016. We’ll see….

Notably, for homeowners who go solar in Minnesota, you’re expected (on average) to get a 10% internal rate of return (IRR) on your investment, which beats the S&P 50-year CAGR of 9.9% — very, very good.

2. Virginia

Virginia has low electricity rates and not the best solar resources around. So, how is this state showing up as a hot solar market? Well, a Virginia law, HB 2334, requires that Virginia’s large utility, Dominion Energy, implement a 50-megawatt PPA renewable energy pilot program. 50 megawatts is a sizable pilot project, and who knows what it might stimulate? Virginia also has net metering. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much else going for it when it comes to solar power, except perhaps a lot of people who would like to rely on their own clean electricity source while also saving money. Those are a couple of big incentives, aren’t they?

Investing in solar in Virginia may not be as lucrative as investing in solar in Minnesota, but it’s still projected to save/make the average homeowner more than investing in a 30-year U.S. Treasury Bond or 5-year CD. Homeowners should be going solar in a heartbeat for the IRR available here.

How much will solar save you? Find out in about 60 seconds!

3. Washington, DC

Yes, here’s the non-state. so, I’m sure you’re wondering: what does this little city have that so big to have put it in this list? For one, 2.5 percent of DC power must be from solar by 2023 (projected to be about 250 MW of power capacity). And the city has an undersupplied Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) market, meaning there’s a lot of need for growth there. Also, net metering in DC is allowed for projects up to 5 MW in size (quite large), allowing for more people to take part in (and profit from) relatively large solar projects, even “community solar gardens.”

Investing in solar in DC has a better average IRR than in any state in the US other than Hawaii. 20%! It’s almost a crime to own a roof in DC and not invest in solar power. Also, thanks to the city’s progressive net metering law, even if you don’t own a roof but live in DC, you can take advantage of that great IRR by investing in a community solar garden. Solar panel suppliers must be drooling looking at the DC market.


4. Louisiana

Louisiana has great solar resources, but almost no solar power installed. GTM Research seems to be hopeful that the market will wake up a bit down there in the coming few years. While there aren’t state requirements for utilities to increase their use of solar power, there is net metering and a state tax credit for solar panel installations through 2017. On average, the projected IRR for someone who goes solar in Louisiana is an extremely attractive 9.4%. It’s a no-brainer.

5. Georgia

Another Southern state with little solar power capacity today and a lot of room for growth is Georgia. A few big new policies look to grow the solar market in Georgia considerably, even though solar leasing remains off the table legally. As GTM writes: “Demand for solar in Georgia will be driven by an attractive feed-in tariff and utility-scale RFPs for twenty-year PPAs. The Georgia Advanced Solar Initiative offers 13 cents per kilowatt-hour for distributed generation and 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale solar.” Once those are in place, hold on to your hands, solar power installations are going to be flying into place all over the state.

US solar power growth

All in all, cities and states across the country are looking to see a lot of solar power growth in the coming years. ¾ of US solar power installations were connected to the grid within just the past 2½ years, ⅔ of solar PV panels shipped around the world by solar panel suppliers have been shipped just within the past 2½ years, and that pattern of rapid solar growth is expected to continue. Solar panel costs have dropped about 60% since early 2011. There’s no reversing that dramatic fall. The market is maturing, and as a market matures, costs come down.

The 5 markets above seem primed for much stronger solar power growth than they’ve seen so far. If you’re in one of these states or DC, you might want to have a look at the solar incentives that are available where you live. Or, even better, you can have us help you with that while you also get hooked up with a local solar contractor and get professional estimates of how much solar would cost you and how much more you could save by going solar.

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.



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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Anon

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_LYM740wBdjE/S6rCJUZRrkI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/rFy9Pfbd-Sw/s1600/jobs+per+million+spent.jpg

    Lets take a look at renewables propaganda.

    Say renewables eventually come down to a reasonable price ($1/W). That means 13 jobs per MW of capacity.

    If we want 25% of the US on renewables, that’s 1 million MW of capacity, or 13 million jobs.

    That’s insane. If we say 10% of those are engineers, that’s 1.3 million engineers. There are 800,000 engineers in the US.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Your post makes no sense on various levels.

      First “$1/watt”? What does that mean?

      If it’s solar installed at $1/watt then we’re on the way. However there is no basis for assuming 10% of the solar installation workforce would be engineers. In fact, engineers typically aren’t involved with solar systems. A lot of systems are installed by roof monkeys working with a single electrician.

      I really doubt that wind or geothermal employ engineers anywhere as much as 10% of their workforce. Lots of construction workers and a few specialized technicians. Wind turbine technicians, for example, are trained in junior colleges, not engineering programs.

      Now, assuming that for some reason we would need more engineers that we currently have doesn’t that suggest to you that good career opportunities would be created? It will take many years to reach 25% wind and solar penetration, we’re only to ~5% now. There’s time to educate some more bright young people.

    • James Van Damme

      Yes, you are insane. It would be great if we could employ 13 million people installing solar power, but that’s not going to happen. The jobs will be spread out over many years. Also, we don’t need 10% engineers. And if we get plug-in solar, the homeowners do it themselves and there’s no new jobs.

      • anon

        “Yes, you are insane. It would be great if we could employ 13 million people installing solar power, but that’s not going to happen. ”

        I wouldn’t dismiss the data by the renewables lobby so quickly. There are multiple sources showing extremely high labor intensity of renewables over the entire lifecycle of the system.

        It’s about 50% O&M and 50% manufacturing. Table 2

        http://rael.berkeley.edu/node/675

        Powering just a third of consumption (10 PWh) on either wind or solar would require millions of workers. In total, about 2 million for wind and 12 million for solar. For comparison the utilities industry is 600K people and having severe labor shortages resulting in increased blackouts.

        • Hans

          And there I was, thinking that job creation was a good thing,

        • Hans

          And these black-outs have nothing to do with years of neglect of the system.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Regardless of now many workers it will take to install the wind and solar we need the cost of electricity from wind and solar is low and falling. Those labor costs are built into the cost of electricity. And once we get past the first generation labor requirements will decrease.

          Transforming from a fossil fuel energy base to a renewable base will take a lot of labor. No one argues otherwise. It took a lot of labor to build railroads, mine coal, build coal and gas plants. But we’ve got to put that behind us.

          The labor required to hold back the rising oceans and to grow crops on the rocky, swampy lands of Canada and Siberia would be immense, more than we can afford.

          • anon

            “Are you testing your new talking point here?”

            Of course.

            “It took a lot of labor to build railroads, mine coal, build coal and gas plants. But we’ve got to put that behind us.”

            http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag211.htm

            http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag482.htm

            The oil industry employs less than 200,000 people. Salaries for petroleum engineers and even unskilled rig labor are going up a lot. Railroads employ 250,000 people. The requirements we’re talking about are an order of magnitude greater than that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So what is your point? Do we have a shortage of humans? Creating good jobs is a bad thing?

          • anon

            There’s already a severe shortage of skilled trades, you can make more with a community college certificate in electrical work or welding than bachelor’s degrees get.

            http://www.publicpower.org/Media/magazine/ArticleDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=14824

            The coming labor shortage could become the most significant problem the electric utility industry will face in the next five to 10 years.

            “It is possible to end up with a scenario where some utilities are operating like utilities in third-world countries,” said Steven C. Kussmann, executive director of the Utility Business Education Coalition in Reston, Va. “They won’t have a sufficient number of qualified people to operate them. The result will be dangerous working conditions and unreliable power.” Politicians will have a heyday with this, he said.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Training/certification as a wind technician takes less than one year of post-high school education.

            As for running the grid, the grid isn’t going to get any larger. Demand is shrinking.

          • Hans

            So this is the time to invest in education.

          • Hans

            His point is that the traditional right wing talking points are losing their edge. The costs of renewable keep dropping, there are countries with a large amount of renewables on the grid, and their grids are still stable, and it has been shown over and over again that the environmental effects are benign in comparison of fossil fuel. So he his trying to spin a positive effect of renewables into something negative.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It does seem to be a case of “I’m supposed to be against this stuff. That’s my team’s position. Now, what criticism can I dream up?”.

          • Hans

            This is so funny. Right way types are always the first to cry ‘job destruction’ when there is talk to take away some of the privileges of the fossil fuel industry, or having them to pay for the damages they do to society. Now there is a new industry providing more jobs and suddenly it is a bad thing.

            It is even more funny because right wing types claim that the market can solve all problems. According to their theory a labour shortage in some sector would lead to higher salaries attracting more workers from other sectors, or from the unemployed who would not like to work for a lower salary because living on food stamps is such a luxurious life. People without the proper training would be willing to invest in a specialised (commercial) education, so the invisible hand of the market would create the necessary educational systems.

            Of course real life is a bit more complicated than the simplified economic theories used by right wing types. So it would nice if the government would invest in education a bit. After years of neglect this would not be a bad thing in general anyway. But than I am from Europe and not paranoid about governments.

        • James Van Damme

          Talk to the IEEE about labor “shortages”, manufactured to get visas for cheap foreign workers. Pay people enough and they’ll come back from their other jobs.

          Disclaimer: I’m a MSEE working one day a week (for now). Looking forward to one of those millions of engineering jobs. Oh wait, how many are in China?

          • anon

            “Talk to the IEEE about labor “shortages”, manufactured to get visas for cheap foreign workers. ”

            We will probably have to try that at some point.

    • Hans

      Are you testing your new talking point here?

      • anon

        http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/files/library/publications/reports/Workers_Wanted_TPwind.pdf

        Workers wanted:

        The EU wind energy sector skills gap

        http://homeenergypros.lbl.gov/profiles/blogs/the-solar-industry-may-soon-face-a-skilled-labor-shortage

        The Solar Industry May Soon Face a Skilled Labor Shortage

        Here are some additional sources if you’re interested in this issue.

        • Hans

          The problem in this discussion is that your are not sincerely trying to find out how serious the possible labour shortage in the renewable energy sector is, but you have already formed your opinion and are only looking for information that confirms your opinion.

          You started out juggling with numbers you did not really understand. You did not even compare your first two sources to check if they were consistent with each other. Once your calculations have been debunked you move the goalposts, and make new calculations showing a shameful lack of knowledge of the topic, again you were debunked, now you are now scraping the internet to find something else to support your pre-made opinion.

          The EWEA report you cite speaks of a current shortage of 7000 and a possible shortage 15 000 skilled labourers in the European wind industry. This can be a (temporary) bottleneck for further growth and something will have to be done about it. Nevertheless a lot of wind turbines are being build in the EU, so despite the current shortage they manage to function.

          These numbers are several orders smaller than the numbers you come up with in your original comment, and thus not the unsolvable problem you suggest it to be.
          The EWEA report also gives recommendations on how to improve education to solve this problem.

          Any growing industry will go through some period where it is difficult to find qualified workers. In the nineties there were severe shortages in the IT sector. The IT sector still exists and I never hear about such shortages any more.

          So summarising: yes there is a problem. but it is not so big and unsolvable as you make it out to be. And it will not stop the renewable energy sector to reach its goals.

    • Doug

      I don’t think anyone really believes that the jobs per MW of solar ratio is linear indefinitely. It certainly isn’t untrue that solar installations create jobs, from engineers to installers. My experience is that the “engineers” in question are not difficult to staff.

    • Hans

      It seems most likely that the table means job-years, rather than life-long jobs. If it takes ten years to reach 25% renewables, you can divide all your numbers by ten.

      • anon

        “If it takes ten years to reach 25% renewables, you can divide all your numbers by ten.”

        No, the figures are over the lifetime of the system, as described in the first paragraph of the paper.

        Hans, I’m not sure why I’m being accused of being right wing. I’m just presenting data.

        • Hans

          You use two references. The table based on Heidi Garret-Peltier and the Wei et al 2010 paper in Energy policy. Your calculations are based on the Garret-Peltier table.

          Table 2 in the Energy policy paper completely debunks your argument.

          First it shows the average total jobs per MWp during the lifetime of the project for renewable and non-renewable technologies . Dependent on the technology the sum of the CIM and O&M jobs roughly vary between 1 and 2.5 (with the exception of landfill gas). Using your $1/Wp assumption, this is 0.5 to 2.5 jobs per Million dollar invested. A much lower number than the number in the Garret-Peltier table that you use as a basis for your calculations. So it is still most likely that the Garret-Peltier table gives job-years instead of average jobs over the lifetime. It could also mean government investment instead of overall investment.

          More important is the before last column of Table 2 in Wei et al. It gives the total job-years per GWh of produced electricity. It shows that on average the renewables give one and a half to twice the amount of jobs as non-renewables. This is not the extreme difference you come up with.

          Summarising:
          You don’t really read the literature you refer to, you make some back on the envelope calculation based on a table you do not understand and on subjective, unrealistic assumptions, and you try to sell this as ‘just presenting the data’.

          Even if your calculations and assumptions would have been correct your conclusion “it will never work” is subjective. It could also have been: “from my calculations it follows that schooled labour will be a bottleneck for further employment of renewables, let us discuss what we can do about it. Maybe investment in schooling would help here”

          From all this I conclude that you are insincere, and you just juggle with data until you find something with which you can ‘prove’ that renewables cannot succeed, together with your way of argumentation this makes you most likely somebody on the right hand side of the political spectrum.

          • anon

            “More important is the before last column of Table 2 in Wei et al. It gives the total job-years per GWh of produced electricity. It shows that on average the renewables give one and a half to twice the amount of jobs as non-renewables. This is not the extreme difference you come up with.”

            Given that renewables need to replace liquid fuels, scaling them up to, say, 10 PWh makes a substantial difference. If you believe my calculations are incorrect you can take the data from the table and perform them yourself.

            “from my calculations it follows that schooled labour will be a bottleneck for further employment of renewables, let us discuss what we can do about it. Maybe investment in schooling would help here” is a reasonable conclusion.

          • Hans

            You conveniently ignore that i clearly showed that the calculation you made on the basis of the unclear Garret-Peltier Table is inconsistent with the very specific table in Wei et al.

            But I pick up your challenge:

            According to Wikipedia the annual electricity production in the US is 4,138.7 billion* kWh or roughly 4 PWh or 4 million GWh**. Replacing 25% would mean 1 million GWh. (A factor ten lower than the number you pluck from thin air)

            If I take from the Wei et al Table 2 0.3 job-years/GWh for renewables and 0.1 job-years/GWh for conventional, I come to 200,000 additional jobs. Which is still substantial, but not as extreme as the 1.3 million you come up with.

            Than there is the questionable 10% engineers assumption and future learning effects.

            Will you finally admit you made much too strong conclusions based subjective assumptions and on data you did not completely understand?

            *American billion not European billion, I checked this by multiplying the installed capacity with the capacity factor and the number of hours in a year

            **https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#Generation

          • anon

            Electricity consumption and energy consumption are not the same thing, your own source confirms my calculation.

          • Hans

            Please clarify. In my second calculation I used your 8.5 PWh for 2050 assumption and the Wei et al paper you brought into the discussion. I still came out an order of magnitude lower than you.

          • anon

            http://zacharyshahan.com/how-much-renewable-energy-will-be-installed-in-2030-2040-2050/

            If you really think 10 PWh isn’t considered realistic by renewables people, consider this article. It predicts over 1 TW of capacity in 2050 which translates into 1 TW * 24 hours a day * 365 days a year = 8.5 PWh per year. If you want we can re-run the numbers of 8.5 PWh.

          • Hans

            Your original comment was based on 25% electricity production coming from renewables. I completely debunked your calculations. Instead of admitting that you were wrong, you are now trying to move the goalposts. You are also doing this rather clumsily because you ignore a little thing called capacity factor. Let us assume a generous average capacity factor for renewables of 30% (the Wei et al paper gives some values for different technologies). This gives an annual production of 2.6GWh. According to my previous calculations this translates in half a million jobs. Which is handleable, especially if you have 36 years to prepare for it. (remember your new goal is for the year 2050). Moreover, technological progress will decrease the number of jobs per GWh. For example, more efficient solar energy systems will decrease the installation and maintenance jobyears per GWh.

            You are sceptical and you know how to use a calculator. Good for you! But to do a serious analysis you have to to have a background knowledge and an understanding of the topic you want to analyse.

          • anon

            “Your original comment was based on 25% electricity production coming from renewables.”

            I never said that. Electricity is just one part of energy.

            The labor problems have already been acknowleged, by the EWEA and others. In both the US and the EU power blackouts have been increasing because power plant operators are retiring faster than they can be replaced. This is something you have to consider when expanding O&M.

          • Hans

            “I never said that. Electricity is just one part of energy.”

            You are somewhat right there. There is currently one million MW of total installed power capacity in the US, I assumed that you assumed a 25% capacity factor for renewables and a (unrealistic) 100% capacity factor for conventional. This does not change the fact that your original calculation was way of.

            As I discussed elsewhere the numbers of the EWEA are of a completely different order than your numbers.

          • Hans

            Note: my calculation based on the 8.5 PWh figure for 2050 you came up with is independent on the 25% assumption and still comes out and order of magnitude lower than your original calculation.

          • anon

            “Your original comment was based on 25% electricity production coming from renewables.”

            To clarify, the things we now use fossil fuels for will need to be done electrically.

          • Hans

            “To clarify, the things we now use fossil fuels for will need to be done electrically.”

            Yes, and in doing so you can do stuff much more efficiently. For example, internal combustion motors are extremely inefficient, electric motors are extremely efficient. For every kWh you put in electrical heat pumps will give 2.5 to 5 times the heat as a conventional burner. In other words 1GWh of fossil fuel can be replaced by a much smaller amount of renewable electricity.

          • Hans

            By the way: 2010 US primary energy use 26PWh*, 25% of this is 6.5 PWh that will need to be replaced. Remember that transportation and heating can be done much more efficiently with electricity, so we will need less renewable electricity to replace this. When we ignore this, the efficiency increase there will be equivalent with 325 000 extra jobs.

            So no matter how you twist and turn, your first calculation was way of.

            I slowly get the feeling I am discussing Bill O’Reilly or Bjorn Lomborg.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#Current_consumption

          • Hans

            Sorry I made a sloppy error there. Here follows the correction

            As stated earlier from Wei et al it follows that 1GWh renewables means 0.2 additional jobs-years. 6.5PWh (one million Gwh) thus means 1.3 million additional jobs. Still a factor of ten lower than you come up with.

            This is a very rough calculation, that ignores learning effects and the fact that electric transport and heating are more efficient than their fossil fuel counterparts.

          • anon

            The renewables propaganda job figures I used in my opening post is probably inaccurate, I agree. The Wei numbers are more reliable because they average a range of estimates from the available sources.

            Either way even 10,000 new power station operators, electricians, glaziers, or steelworkers is a significant challenge in already stretched fields. Definitely justifies targeted educational investments and possibly even cutting education spending in other fields to steer people into critical infrastructure.

          • Hans

            Sigh, you have a bit of a problem with self-reflection. You present the Garret-Peltier table without context and without reference to the original article or report the table comes from. (I googled for it, but could not find the original source) Without this context it is impossible to know what they actually mean, instead of admitting that you used the numbers without understanding them, you call the numbers inaccurate.

            You now suddenly reduce your original 13 million to 10 000 and act as if that does not change your argument.
            Finding 10 000 new skilled labourers will not happen overnight, but it will not take decades eitherr. A combination of higher salaries, more efficient work methods, in house training and better cooperation with educational institutions. In the nineties IT companies took historians and sociologists and made them into programmers and system administrators.

            I compared you to Bill O’Reilly and Bjorn Lomborg, I should have compared you with the black knight in Monty Python and the holy grail. Your arms and legs have been cut of, you are laying in a pool of your own blood and you still think you have won the fight.

          • anon

            “You now suddenly reduce your original 13 million to 10 000 and act as if that does not change your argument. ”

            That’s not quite what I did.

            “Your arms and legs have been cut of, you are laying in a pool of your own blood and you still think you have won the fight.”

            That’s rhetoric, not an argument. In order for your point to stand we have to assume the job creation propaganda by renewables organizations is incorrect or only referring to temporary low skilled jobs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We typically don’t call construction jobs “low skilled”. Low skilled is more like picking up trash in the park.

            The jobs in wind and solar farms are “temporary” in the same sense building houses are temporary. You work on one and when that one is done you look for the next one to work on. It will likely be 30+ years before we build the last wind farm and solar farm we need. (Assuming a better technology does not emerge.)

            For many Americans these are great jobs compared to flipping burgers or stocking shelves in a discount store.

            These are jobs for the sorts of people who would at one time have found employment in factories, but we’ve run a bit low on factories. We need jobs at t his level.

          • Hans

            Let me summarise the course of the argument again:

            Based on some assumptions and the Garret Peltier table you come to the conclusion that 25% renewables would require 13 million workers. You did not state your conclusion explicitly, but since your comment was on an article about RE growth it is suggested that you meant that a large growth of renewables would be impossible due to lack of qualified workers. The other people reacting to you also interpreted it that way and you did not correct them by saying that your point actually was something else.

            I than redid your calculation for both 25% renewable electricity as well as for 25% energy based on the very specific data in Wei et al (that you brought into the discussion) and came out an order of magnitude. Thereby reducing the labour shortage problem from an insolvable mega-problem to a doable challenge.

            Note that I have been very pessimistic in my calculations because I ignored learning effects, and the difference between primary energy and usable energy

            You than brought in the EWEA report like it would prove your point of insolvable labour shortage although they only speak of a current shortage of 7000 workers and 15 000 in the year 2030. A completely different order of magnitude than your first post.

            Now you suddenly seem to imply that your original point was that the Garret-Peltier Table contains wrong data. And you still ignore the possibility that you do not understand what is meant by the table.

            The Monty Python description was not meant as an argument, just a way to describe the running of the discussion by means of a metafor. On the other hand, continuously calling numbers that you do not understand “propaganda” is definitely rhetoric.

            I am now going to do like king Arthur and move on while your are laying on the ground claiming victory.

          • anon

            “I am now going to do like king Arthur and move on while your are laying on the ground claiming victory.”

            You can do that. I’m willing to believe the highest job creation figures for renewables are made up. In fact, I agree with your summary except the implication that the labor requirements are impossible.

            I wouldn’t say impossible. Just very difficult. We will see. Bob can have the last post if he prefers.

          • A Real Libertarian

            So according to you, job figures for renewable energy are simultaneously massively overstated to make RE look like it provides jobs and massively understated to hide that RE requires too many jobs to be practical?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why can’t some people pull back, take a careful look at what they’ve claimed and admit that they were off track, if they are? There’s no shame in being wrong, we’re all wrong about stuff all the time.

            Glory goes to those who can recognize their mistakes, take on new information and move forward. They evolve and they produce ideas that advance the discussion.

          • anon

            I know it sounds strange that fields run into shortages after employing only a few thousand people, but that’s whats happening. Power plant operators and wind techs are making six figure salaries for high-school level education. They’re great fields and there’s plenty of education and resources available to help people get in. They just aren’t entering, as with most trades.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Schools need to do more outreach and spread the word about the good jobs available.

            Things like this straighten themselves out. It’s just a matter of time until people understand the opportunity and jump in. This isn’t like a shortage of teachers because we underpay teachers.

          • anon

            http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world/?_r=0

            Teachers in the US are among the highest paid in the world, even among developed countries. It gets to a point where you just can’t cram more people into one narrow sector of the economy.

            In any case the current shortage shows either problems with our approach to wind or incompetence on behalf of the wind industry for overbuilding capacity.

            http://www.fit.ie/index.php?page=wind-turbine-maintenance

            At the moment the wind energy sector and the Green Economy are rapidly expanding, both in Ireland and across Europe and America. With recent reports highlighting that 60% of wind turbines may be behind on their maintenance schedules there is a notable shortage of essential staff in the industry at present. The course will therefore meet needs within the industry while providing graduates with an excellent opportunity to compete within the labour market in Ireland but also to capitalise on employment opportunities across Europe.

          • anon

            What I mean is, why are wind companies installing new capacity if they can’t maintain existing? If people just aren’t aware of wind jobs then it seems like going to a job fair and handing out fliers would be a better investment.

            Besides, we have unemployment. Surely the unemployed aren’t unemployed just because they’re lazy and not making an effort to find work. They just aren’t going into wind.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Show us some data that proves your claim that wind farms are not able to maintain their equipment due to a shortage of workers.

          • anon

            I thought I had (two posts ago), but if requested I can provide more.

            http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1176255/recruitment-step-manage-o-m-shortfall

            http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2008/09/survey-says-60-of-us-wind-turbines-may-be-behind-in-maintenance-53502

            According to the findings, many wind farm operations and maintenance teams are so resource constrained that they are barely able to keep up with the unscheduled maintenance repairs their wind turbines require to continue generating electricity. Even regular, scheduled preventative-maintenance like oil changes and gearbox lubrication (services that are often still under warranty) are falling behind as manufacturers face similar resource struggles related to the shortage of qualified technicians.

            http://nawindpower.com/issues/NAW1310/FEAT_03_Turbine-Maintenance-Pay-Now-Or-Surely-Pay-Later.html

            According to the American Wind Energy Association, nearly $40 billion worth of wind installations in the U.S. came out of warranty in 2011, and 50% of the country’s wind turbine generator fleet is behind in original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-recommended maintenance schedules. Now wind farm owners must assume the entire financial risk and provide cost-effective operations and maintenance (O&M) programs.

            //

            Then again, it’s not absolutely necessary to maintain turbines. The government will buy you new ones so that may be the reason why there are pictures of abandoned windfarms on the internet.

            http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/19/the-reality-of-wind-turbines-in-california-video/#more-36283

          • A Real Libertarian

            You’re citing Anthony Watt?

            Around here we don’t consider failed weatherman turned shills for Big Oil experts in anything except their masters latest propaganda.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, we need to train more wind techs. We can do that.

            Or do you have a different solution? Perhaps use a lot more coal? Build more nuclear plants?

            Oops, building more nuclear plants – we don’t have the engineers and experienced construction people to do that. It would take years to train a new generation vs. a few months for wind techs.

            Now, how about wrapping this up. You have a minor point – we need more wind techs. This is not a big deal. Advertise the positions and training opportunities. In a year or so we’re caught up.

            There will never be perfect synchronization of materials, transmission and personnel in a rapidly expanding industry.

            If you recall silicon refining lagged demand for a while. Then panel production got ahead of demand. Now panel demand is starting to exceed production.

            A few years back wind turbine demand exceeded production and prices rose. More production came on line and prices fell. Now we seem to have a bit more production capacity than demand.

            Back when we were building nuclear reactors some construction projects were abandoned because projected demand did not materialize. In fact, TVA recently canceled a nuclear project due to falling demand.

          • anon

            “Or do you have a different solution?”

            I don’t have a solution. Since the energy sector is already short on workers, the extra labor requirements of renewables will mostly be met by falling production rather than increased employment.

            There is a shortage of tradeworkers because people are over or undereducating themselves to avoid manual labor. To be frank it’s a larger societal problem involving people being adverse to real work.

            “More production came on line and prices fell. Now we seem to have a bit more production capacity than demand.”

            But they are still installing substantial numbers of new turbines when they can’t maintain existing. That doesn’t sound wise.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Whatever. I suspect we’ll muddle through.

            Have a nice day.

          • anon

            It’ll just be really interesting when civilization collapses because of something embarassing, like refusal of millenials to leave their parents house to get six figure, community college level jobs.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Or coalheads and fallout boys sabotaging renewable energy.

          • anon

            I don’t know why this site sides with the coal lobby against nuclear when its supposed to be a clean tech blog

          • Bob_Wallace

            Troll much?

          • A Real Libertarian

            Kill nukes then RE can focus its full might on FF.

            It’s hard to do that while keeping one eye on the lookout for the atomic dagger in the back.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You are a dishonest twit, aren’t you?

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