2015 was a record breaking year for solar jobs nationwide – and California led the way. Over 20,000 new solar jobs were created within the state, representing more than half of the nationwide new job total of 35,000. According to a new report, the California Solar Job Census (part of the annual National Solar Job Census), the total number of solar workers in the state was nearly 75,600 by the end of 2015, representing a 38 percent increase over 2014. (Nationwide, all solar jobs totaled about 209,000.) According to the California Solar Energy Industries Association, the California solar total represents more jobs than all those held at the state’s top five utility companies. In addition, one out of three employees in the solar industry nationwide works in California.
Los Angeles was the leader of all counties in the state with 15,142 total jobs. Furthermore, Los Angeles had a higher percentage of women solar workers than the statewide average: 34.7, more than a third (the average is 27.7). The next number of total solar jobs was in San Diego County, with 8,336 jobs. Orange and Santa Clara counties were the two others in California that have more than 5,000 jobs.
More than half the total of solar jobs statewide were in installations: almost 40,600. Although growth in California installations dipped slightly from that of 2014, the 3000 MW installed in the state was greater than the next six largest state solar markets combined. Manufacturing and sales/distribution jobs totaled a little over 11,000 apiece. Slightly less than 9,000 jobs were for Product Development and slightly more than 3,600 were classified as “Other.”
“Solar power is a bright spot in California’s economy, bringing jobs and economic development to every corner of the state,” Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, was quoted as saying. “While conventional energy industries are losing jobs, we are seeing record growth, and bringing clean air and climate solutions along the way.”
Michelle Kinman of Environment California Research & Policy Center said, “As today’s census shows, when we place solar on the rooftops of homes, businesses, schools and places of worship, we not only reduce pollution, but also create jobs in communities across California. The detractors of solar power, including California’s big utilities, should take note – solar is growing, it’s employing real people and it’s here to stay.”
The National Solar Jobs Census 2015 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership. The report includes data collected from more than 19,000 U.S. businesses.