The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, has released the State Solar Jobs Map, a Web-based tool providing what the organization says are the first-ever solar jobs numbers for each of the 50 states.
These new state numbers build upon TSF's National Solar Jobs Census 2012, which found that the U.S. solar energy industry employs 119,016 Americans and that solar employment grew 13.2% over the prior year.
The interactive map also presents information on the relative size of solar subsectors in each state and allows users to explore how their state measures up to others in terms of key solar policies, jobs per capita and the number of homes powered by solar energy. Thousands of data points from a combination of sources were analyzed via a dual methodology to develop the jobs estimates that are the focus of this effort, TSF notes.
‘In comparing our estimates with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find that California now has more solar workers than actors and that there are more solar jobs in Texas than there are ranchers,’ says Andrea Luecke, executive director of TSF. ‘Economies of scale are also making our industry more labor efficient, requiring only one-third the number of workers to install a megawatt of solar today as it did in 2010.’Â
According to the report, the top 10 states for solar jobs in 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, Texas, Michigan and Ohio. In comparing solar employment estimates from today's release with previous state figures that examined solar jobs in only a few states, six states – California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado and New York – are in the top 10 for the third year in a row.
Many of the highest-ranked solar jobs states are also those with the greatest cumulative installed capacity in the nation. The map also demonstrates what has already been made apparent by global solar leaders such as Germany: that an abundant solar resource is not necessarily a prerequisite for a strong solar market. Only four states ranked in the top 10 in terms of maximum solar resource are also top 10 solar employment states, the report says.
The remaining states (New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Ohio) all rank in the bottom 30% in the nation in terms of available solar resource. What all of the top 10 solar jobs states do have in common, however, is a collection of policy tools designed to support renewable energy in general and solar in particular.
The state solar jobs figures included in the map both reflect and underscore what is known about solar employment at the national level. According to TSF's National Solar Jobs Census 2012, 31% of employers indicated that component price declines were the greatest driver of company growth.
The latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research shows that the top four solar jobs states (California, Arizona, New Jersey and Massachusetts) all saw significant decreases in residential installed costs in 2012, with New Jersey and Massachusetts experiencing substantial declines in non-residential prices as well.
Separate methods were used to generate the state jobs estimates; both methods looked at thousands of data points and utilized a combination of high-quality sources. Installation and construction figures were determined using labor intensity multipliers and recent industry data on installed solar capacity.
These multipliers were developed internally and checked against similar estimates found in leading sources, both public and private. Non-installation jobs – including positions in manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development, and ‘other’ occupations supporting the solar sector – were estimated as the product of the average number of jobs per solar establishment and the number of establishments in each state.
The map can be viewed here.