The U.S. solar market has created hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans and, until recently, has seen record growth year-over-year. According to the 2017 National Solar Jobs Census, compiled and published by The Solar Foundation, one in 50 jobs in the U.S. were in the solar energy sector, nearly triple the amount available in 2010 and double the amount of jobs provided by the coal industry at the time.
The solar job market has also grown a diverse workforce. The Solar Foundation reports in the 2017 National Job Census that 32 percent of the solar workforce comprised of people of color, and 27 percent being women. This growth is attributed to organizations, including Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), promoting professional development for women and creating a diversified workforce.
The controversial filing of a Section 201 petition resulted in the approval of a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. Supporters of the petition claimed the move would help the U.S. solar manufacturing sector compete with the larger Chinese module manufacturers and promised that greater protections for U.S. manufacturing would result in an increase in jobs. However, CALSEIA and numerous other solar trade organizations, as well as companies across the solar value chain, strongly opposed the tariff, and noted that it would likely not create the number of jobs it claimed and would hurt installers and project developers. The impact of these tariffs on the U.S. solar industry as a whole will be one of the most-talked about policy stories for this year.