According to a report produced by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative, there are more than twice as many solar power jobs in the US as coal industry jobs. “Solar energy firms employed, in whole or in part, 350,000 individuals in 2017, with more than 250,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar. Coal-fired generation employment held steady at 92,000 jobs.”
“The data in this report is the latest evidence that solar is the leading job creator in the clean energy sector. Solar provides more than twice as many jobs as the coal industry, almost five times as many jobs as nuclear power, and nearly an equal number of jobs as natural gas. As installations continue to go up across the country and become a mainstream part of America’s energy mix, opportunities for high-quality jobs in the solar industry will only increase,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation.
In the period 2016-2017, it was predicted that solar photovoltaics installer would be the fastest growing job in the US over the next ten years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged the growth rate at 105%, saying “Employment of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is projected to grow 105 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.” In addition, solar panel installer is a ‘good’ job, meaning that it is both skilled labor and has a respectable yearly salary: $39,490 in May 2017.
However, President Trump’s solar power tariff might have a dampening effect on growth of this type of job because of the predicted decrease in solar installations. Trump has also wanted to reduce the closures of coal and nuclear power plants claiming that national security is at issue. The idea is that many US military bases are supposedly dependent upon electricity from coal and nuclear plants so they must be preserved. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Kevin McIntyre has stated publicly there is no threat to grid reliability though.
Based on market forces, coal power in the US is in quite a decline,“Half of America’s coal fleet has been marked for mothballs since 2010, a total of 262 doomed plants.” This is all to say even with the solar tariff, solar power over the long-term is growing and coal power is very likely to continue fading.
The success of the solar power industry to employ hundreds of thousands of Americans somehow receives almost no recognition, and yet it could easily be celebrated, and should be.
Furthermore, who wants a job working with coal? Breathing coal dust can cause respiratory diseases: “These diseases are progressive, and they have no cure. More than 76,000 miners have died of black lung since 1968, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.”
How many people have died installing solar panels?
Image Credit: Rfassbind, Wikipedia, Public domain