Solar Jobs For Veterans: New Report Highlights Growth

by Tina Casey.

Fresh off the news that President Obama is making noises about withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan, the organizations Operation Free and The Solar Foundation have released a first-of-its-kind report that offers returning veterans the prospect of civilian employment in the US solar industry. In a nutshell, the new report demonstrates that veterans are employed in the solar industry at higher than average rates.

That’s a note of optimism for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, who in this generation have faced a challenging employment picture.

Renewable Energy. Solar Power. Veterans solar jobs (cropped) courtesy of Vetsinsolar.org.
Renewable Energy. Solar Power. Veterans solar jobs (cropped) courtesy of Vetsinsolar.org.

The new report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, is all the more significant in light of Republican leadership policy pushing for cuts in food stamps and other safety net services on which many veterans and their families depend.

Veterans Solar Jobs On Active Duty…

It’s worth pointing out that more than a few returning veterans already have experience with solar equipment on active duty, as the Department of Defense has been pushing aggressively to transition out of dependency on fossil fuels and into more flexible, logistically sensible forms of power. That includes bases here at home as well as forward operating bases and field maneuvers overseas, too.

Just a few notable examples in the latter category are the portable solar-in-a-suitcase and solar-in-a-backpack kits, a wearable solar powered “talking vest,” and micro-grid systems with solar input.

So in a very real sense, many veterans already have solar jobs.

…And Veterans Solar Jobs At Home

Just as the wind power industry has proved to be a welcoming home for the wide range of skills possessed by returning veterans (see here and here for example), the solar industry has been going above and beyond to offer new pathways to employment.

Since we’ve been pausing here and there to note things, let’s also note that the distributed nature of the solar industry mitigates against the kinds of social, environmental and economic stresses experienced by communities that are hosting fossil fuel “boom” operations.

The more community-friendly nature of solar employment dovetails with the Department of Defense’s emerging environmental stewardship mission, most eloquently expressed by the US Army Net Zero vision (yes, that’s what the Army calls it: a vision).

Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future

The new Operation Free/Solar Foundation report is well worth a read in full (here’s that link again), but here are a few nuggets for now:

…America’s solar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities as of November 2013.

…veterans represent nearly ten percent of all solar workers at a time when more than 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed.

…growth in the industry is continuing: nearly 62 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers within the next 12 months.

In support of the new report, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) had this to say:

Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available. The solar industry offers our veterans a unique opportunity to use the knowledge they learned serving our country in a rapidly growing sector that is vital to both our national security and economic future.

Okay, so try not to fall asleep waiting for a Republican member of Congress to come out and support veterans solar jobs although when it gets down to governors Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has stepped up in full support of an industry that supports our troops.

Otherwise, seriously, try to think of one Republican member of Congress and if you come up with something drop us a note in the comment thread.

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This article, New Report Highlights Growth In Solar Jobs For Veterans, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Solar power. Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

U.S. Solar Industry Jobs Increase 20% in 2013, to 143,000

by Zachary Shahan.

Renewable Energy US Solar Industry Jobs Census
Renewable Energy wins again! US Solar Industry Jobs Census 2013

Originally published on Solar Love.

The Solar Foundation just released its latest US solar jobs census, National Solar Jobs Census 2013. The key finding is that US solar jobs were up to at least 142,698 as of November 2013. That’s about 20% growth since the last solar jobs census, which had data up through September 2012. Overall US employment grew 1.9% in this period, so US solar jobs grew about 10 times faster!

Aside from the above, here are some key findings from National Solar Jobs Census 2013:

  • 77% of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
  • This comparison indicates that since data were collected for Census 2012, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and many more were saved by creating additional work opportunities for existing employees.
  • Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers.
  • Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.
  • Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.
  • Approximately 91% of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100% of their time working on solar.
  • Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20.00 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15.00 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.
  • The solar industry is a strong employer of veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, who constitute 9.24% of all solar workers – compared with 7.57% in the national economy. Solar employs a slightly larger proportion of Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander workers than the overall economy.

Here’s more in a slidedeck shared by The Solar Foundation.

National Solar Jobs Census 2013 from The Solar Foundation

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This article, Solar Jobs Increase 20%, Rise to 143,000 In US, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy Zachary ShahanZachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.