According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), solar employment now accounts for the largest share of workers in the U.S. power generation field, having surpassed the likes of coal, gas and oil.
Last year, the solar workforce increased by 25 percent to total 374,000 employees. Electrical generation jobs in the coal, gas and oil industries combined amounted to 187,117 jobs, according to the DOE’s Energy and Employment Report for 2017. Fossil fuel generation now accounts for just 22 percent of the electric power generation workforce, while solar employment has risen to 43 percent—the largest share of workers in the energy sector. Solar includes both photovoltaic electricity and concentrated solar steam generators.
According to the report, in the year between September 2015 and September 2016, distributed solar photovoltaic generation increased 35 percent nationwide. Estimated total solar, including both utility-scale and distributed generation, increased by 52 percent. While solar, natural gas and wind employment continues to grow, jobs in coal and other fossil fuels is on the decline. Yet, the majority of electrical generation in the country still comes from fossil fuels. The Annual Energy Outlook says fossil fuels will remain the top supplier of American energy through 2040.
According to the 2015 Solar Job Census, employment in the solar industry has steadily been on the rise since 2010. The solar industry created 31,000 new jobs in 2015, 20 times more than the national average for other industries. Since the first Solar Jobs Census in 2010, solar industry employment has grown by 86 percent.