Solar energy has come a long way since the development of the modern photovoltaic cell in Bell Labs. The technology has seen mass adoption by commercial and consumers alike. Walmart, Costco and Ikea are among the top corporations implementing solar energy at a commercial level. Renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new energy added to the world’s grid. Solar energy saw the most significant gains in the growth of renewable energy. The expansion of solar power is a pursuit economic policymakers and environmentalist can agree on.
One of the most exciting advances in solar energy came from Tesla. The company’s Solar Roof system seamlessly blends in with a home owner’s roof rather than disrupting the architectural aesthetic of a residence. The roof tiles are part of the company’s broader effort to wean the population off fossil fuels. The company announced earlier in 2018 that they will be available for consumer purchase at Home Depot.
The global solar market grew 29.2 percent in 2017 with nations installing 98.9 gigawatts of new capacity according to SolarPower Europe. The growth was in large part due to falling prices of installation, accommodating government policies and panel development. China maintains their rank as the global leader in solar energy installing 52.8 gigawatts in 2017. The U.S. comes in at second with 10.6 gigawatts of new solar power capacity. Dr. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said: “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022.”
In America, the solar workforce has increased by 168% over a seven-year period according to the solar job census with 250,271 Americans in the workforce. California continues to hold the number one spot for the concentration of solar jobs followed by Massachusetts. States that saw an increase in solar jobs include, Utah, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee.
Solar employers are reporting difficulty in hiring and finding qualified candidates. In 2017, 80% of employers said they experienced difficulties finding qualified candidates (top 2 box). The top few reasons respondents gave for difficulty was a lack of relevant experience or technical knowledge in the candidate pool (52%), insufficient qualified candidates (39%) and a high volume of workers needed (24%). Among the positions most difficult to fill, sales are top of the list at 42% followed by electricians (42%) and installers (19%). The Solar Training Hiring and insights study conducted in 2017 revealed that only 34% of solar companies provided on the job training. Employee training programs and tapping into the expertise of specialized recruitment firms can help build up the American solar workforce.