The Solar Foundation released a discussion paper today at Intersolar North America which represents a first look at how the expansion of storage could impact the solar workforce.
While the conclusions reached in this paper are preliminary, the evidence suggests the emerging storage market will have a significant impact on solar jobs.
Specifically, the paper estimates there will be approximately 27,000 solar and storage related deployment jobs in 2021. This includes approximately 9,000 storage installation jobs tied to solar, and 18,000 solar installation jobs that would not occur absent the availability of storage.
"In the next few years, storage will be hitting the mainstream in a big way," said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. "Storage technologies are making solar energy even more reliable, while increasing its appeal among consumers. Our preliminary research has found that storage will also have a significant economic impact, creating tens of thousands of new, high-quality solar jobs within the next five years."
This discussion paper follows on The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census, an annual report series that is considered the first and most authoritative research on the solar labor market. The most recent Census 2015 report found there were nearly 209,000 Americans employed in solar in 2015, representing the third consecutive year of roughly 20 percent job growth.
The new discussion paper finds that additional job growth is likely as a result of the rapid growth in both solar and storage, given that storage deployment is expected to grow nine times larger between 2015 and 2021. Like solar photovoltaic (PV) technology a few years ago, solar storage is now experiencing rapid expansion due to factors such as declining costs and policy incentives. This will likely spark new job growth in all sectors -- residential, nonresidential, and utility-scale.
The paper also provides an analysis on labor efficiencies in the solar storage market (how many people are required to install a specific amount of solar capacity), finding that utility-scale solar is the most labor-efficient. The paper also raised a number of questions (from policy impacts to the effect of various assumptions), indicating where further research is needed.
About The Solar Foundation
An independent nonprofit founded in 1977, the purpose of The Solar Foundation (TSF) is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transforms markets. While solar energy is a key part of our energy future, TSF is committed to excellence in its aim to help people fairly and objectively gauge the value of the technology worldwide.