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Solar Energy Continues to Make Its Case - Now as a Job Creator

With more people worried about job security and the economy, state policy leaders and several corporations are making the case for renewable energy legislation as a job creator.

Solar energy creates and retains jobs, including those in the manufacturing industry.  Texas business leaders noted in a recent report, Lone Star Power: How Texas Businesses Can Supply the World with Solar Energy, one of the great advantages of solar plants is the large number of components that are involved in installing solar power systems. Manufacturing and installing these devices requires significant job creation.  In addition, jobs to maintain solar plants cannot be transferred overseas, therefore guaranteeing that jobs will remain in this country.  In fact,the same Texas business leaders acknowledged the solar industry creates 50% more jobs than the coal industry. Additionally, an increasing number of American manufacturers are losing their edge in the international playing field.  For instance, China is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and the front runner in the green world economy, boasting 1.12 million renewable energy jobs at the end of 2008.  There is a clear need for investment in solar energy in order to remain a competitor in the global market.

So what does it mean to be solar?  One way to generate solar energy involves using mirrors to reflect and focus the sun’s rays, providing heat, which in turn results in power.  Another increasingly popular way to create solar energy is through photovoltaic panels, where solar systems are installed on the rooftops of homes and office buildings.  These solar roofs are also easily linked to the electrical grid, which manages electricity consumption, thus increasing efficiency.

In our Dispatch last March, we listed some state efforts to enact solar energy legislation.  So, what are some states doing lately with solar energy?

  • In Maryland, one bill was introduced to require a quicker ramp-up of the solar portion of the state's renewable portfolio standard and another bill was introduced to require utilities to pay customers back any surplus energy they create with the solar panels on their roofs. 
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has also initiated a project to create what will be the world's largest solar farm in Owens Lake, California. 
  • Corporations and environmental groups in Texas are advocating for incentives to build solar-integrated buildings in the state that enjoys the most solar solar radiation in the country.  They also cite a Blue Green Alliance report, which finds that Texas could gain over 23,000 manufacturing jobs in solar energy if the US were to move to a 25% renewable energy standard.   

If states continue to take action encouraging investment in solar power, manufacturers, workers, and consumers will benefit from the opportunity to create and retain jobs in building solar capacity.

Resources:
Environment Texas - Lone Star Power: How Texas Businesses Can Supply the World With Solar Energy
Tree Hugger - New Bill Could Create 10 Million Solar Roofs Across US
Progressive States Network - Promoting Municipal Financing for Solar Power Investments
The Baltimore Sun
- Maryland Aims for 100,000 Solar Rooftops in 10 years
Reuters - Los Angeles Eyes Owens Lake for Huge Solar Project
Blue Green Alliance - Building the Clean Energy Assembly Line: How Renewable Energy can Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing and the American Middle Class