Solar Industry Shows Superior Job Growth

With most eyes on the continuing story of the bankruptcy of U.S. solar manufacturer Solyndra, the Solar Foundation of the U.S. has pre-released preliminary data from the National Solar Jobs Census 2011, ahead of the full release scheduled for October 19, 2011. Census 2011 measured employment growth in the U.S. from August 2010 to August 2011 and found that solar businesses added 6,735 new workers since August 2010, representing a 6.8 percent growth rate. When measured against overall economic data from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI), this rate of job growth outpaced the overall U.S. economy (which grew by 0.7 percent) and fossil fuel electric generation (which lost 2 percent of its workforce).


Notably, Solyndra announced layoffs of approximately 1,100 full-time and temporary employees on August 31st. However, if the New York Times coverage is any indication, the real story of Solyndra is less about the viability of the solar power industry and more about political interference and lobbying in Washington.


A July 2011 report from the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) provides good news for the solar energy industry. The 10th edition of the PV Status Report provides data on the solar industry in the EU, India, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S. It shows that global production of photovoltaics more than doubled in 2010, making it one of the world’s fastest growing industries. The EU has the most PV installations, providing more than 70% of the total worldwide solar PV electricity generation capacity as of the end of 2010. China has become the major manufacturing centre for solar cells and modules followed by Taiwan, Germany and Japan.


The most recent survey of the Canadian solar photovoltaic sector comes from the Canadian Solar Industry Association, in a report they commissioned from Clear Sky Advisors Inc. and released in July 2011. The Economic Impacts of the Solar Photovoltaic Sector in Ontario 2008-2018 states that the solar PV sector in Ontario provides 8,200 full-time jobs in 2011, and is projected to create over 74,000 jobs by 2018. As the report acknowledges in its scenarios, these projections depend on political support for long range energy policies.



National Solar Jobs Census 2011 press release is at:


The Solar Foundation homepage is at:


Solyndra company press release of August 31 2011 is at:


“In Rush To Assist A Solar Company, U.S. Missed Signs”, from the New York Times, September 23, 2011 at:


PV Status Report by the European Commission Joint Research Centre is available at:


The Economic Impacts of the Solar Photovoltaic Sector in Ontario 2008-2018 is available at:

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