U.S. solar jobs grew 20% last year
The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, recently released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013.
That figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period.
Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
The full report includes state-by-state jobs numbers, and a more detailed analysis of the California, Arizona, and Minnesota solar markets.
“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”
Solar employers are also optimistic about 2014, expecting to add another 22,000 jobs over the coming year. By comparison, over the same time period, the fossil fuel electric generation sector shrank by more than 8,500 jobs (a decline of 8.7 percent) and jobs in coal mining grew by just 0.25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Survey (not seasonally adjusted), September 2012 to November 2013.
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“Tens of thousands of new living-wage jobs have been created over the past year thanks to plunging solar technology costs, increasing consumer demand, and supportive government policies,” said Amit Ronen, director of The George Washington University Solar Institute. “As the nation’s fastest growing energy source, we expect the solar industry will continue to generate robust job growth for at least the next decade.”
The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 was conducted by TSF and BW Research Partnership with support from the GW Solar Institute. The report, derived from data collected from more than 2,081 solar firms, measured employment growth in the solar industry between September 2012 and November 2013. The margin of error of this data set is +/-1.3 percent, significantly lower than any similar national industry study.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.