DOE report reveals solar now employs 374,000

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report released this week showed the solar industry is still one of most robust job-creating industries in the country, adding more than 73,000 jobs last year.

Last year’s advances bring the total number of people employed in solar-electricity generation to 373,807, far higher the traditional fossil-fuel electricity-generation industries. Even the combination oil/petroleum, coal and natural gas only produce 187,117 jobs in electricity generation. The fossil-fuel industries maintain a sizeable lead in fuel-production jobs.

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From the report:

Solar technologies, both photovoltaic and concentrating, employ almost 374,000 workers, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuel generation employment, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment and supports 187,117 workers across coal, oil, and natural gas generation technologies.

The even better news, according to the report’s authors, is that most of the employers in renewable energy are projecting another 7% growth over the next 12 months.

“We welcome this important resource for understanding the growth of jobs in advanced energy,” said Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president of policy for Advanced Energy Economy, a national business association. “We look forward to review the new report, which will allow us to determine the employment impact of our growing industry.”

The report notes that according to the Energy Information Administration, electric generation technologies are expected to add over 26 GW of utility-scale capacity over 2016, with solar’s 9.5 GW make it the largest contributor to the growth.

Solar’s rise coincides with a precipitous decline in net generation from coal sources, which has declined by 53% between 2006 and September 2016, In contrast, solar rose by more than 5,000% in the same timeframe —from 508,000 MWh to just over 28,000,000 MWh. (solar growth only includes utility-scale facilities).

But distributed generation (DG) hasn’t been idle. Between September 2015 and September 2016 alone, DG solar grew 35% nationwide.