Remember the arguments over the impact of the loan guarantee program on job creation? Amid the political fallout of Solyndra’s bankruptcy the DOE issued reports on the impact of that program on the economy. The idea was to justify a program based on an outcome–economic benefits.
I’ve never felt that it was a strong position for the DOE to have to defend its programs on the basis of job creation when the programs are there for national security and environmental reasons. But with all that said, there’s promising data showing that the solar industry added almost 24,000 jobs last year, bringing the total number of those employed by solar to 142,000. That’s a 20 percents solar jobs growth rate, year over year.
Interestingly, two thirds of the new jobs were in installation as opposed to manufacturing, which is the segment of the industry Solyndra occupied. Solar installation continues to chug along at a good pace as financing schemes have lowered barriers to installations, retail electricity rates creep up, and solar panel prices creep down.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive is quoted as saying, “Cost has come down so much that we are starting to work without state-based incentives.” As we near a time when solar can thrive without subsidies, that’s when we should see an even further hockey sticking of job creation in solar.