Employment in North Carolina’s solar power industry jumped 121 percent in 2013, putting the state in the top 10 nationwide for solar employees, according to a report issued this week.
“This report shows that the solar industry is putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs,” says Dave Rogers, a field director with Environment North Carolina.
The “National Solar Jobs Census 2013” report says the state has about 3,100 solar employees — far behind first-place California’s 47,000 solar workers. But it was good enough to lift the state eight places from its rank in 2012, when the same report pegged N.C. solar employment at 1,400 workers.
The report was issued Tuesday by The Solar Foundation in cooperation with the GW Solar Center at George Washington University and BW Research of Carlsbad, Calif.
Flurry of installations
The jobs estimate from the national census is higher than an estimate reported last month by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association in its “2013 N.C. Clean Energy Industry Census” report, which pegged state solar employment at a little more than 2,400 workers.
The national census ranks North Carolina fifth in the number of average homes that can be powered by the state’s solar resources, putting the number nearly 37,000.
The jump in employment was fueled by a flurry of activity that had North Carolina ranked second in the nation for the amount of new solar capacity installed last year.
“Solar is a standout job creator in North Carolina, and can continue to grow with smart policies and support from state leaders,” says Kelly Martin, a senior campaign representative with Sierra Club. “Not only has our state seen tremendous growth in solar installations, but this report confirms that those installations mean more jobs for North Carolinians.”