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In the Energy Wars, It’s Solar Power: 1, Fossil Fuels: 0. For Now.

The U.S. solar industry is expanding at a breakneck pace, though the growth may not be sustainable.

According to a new survey from The Solar Foundation, the U.S. solar industry is expanding at a breakneck pace—so quickly that it’s a major driver of the nation’s economy. One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since 2013 was part of the solar industry—representing 1.3 percent of all new jobs. According to the survey, solar jobs grew 21.8 percent last year, with 36,000 new jobs on the way for 2015.

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Solar Jobs Roughly Equal Coal Jobs in the U.S.

Good jobs in the solar industry are on the rise, while coal plants keep retiring. But what do those sunny numbers hide?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

There’s about as many U.S. jobs in the solar power industry as the coal industry, Vox pointed out yesterday. According to the Solar Foundation, as of 2014 there were more than 173,000 people employed in creating, selling, and installing solar panels on American homes and businesses. Vox’s Brad Plumer compared that to the miners, power plant workers, and transporters in the U.S. coal industry and found that number to be roughly equal, though he admitted to “this isn’t a perfect comparison.”

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Red Governors, Green Jobs: Could 2013 be the Turning Point for Clean Energy?

If it seems like you can’t open a newspaper anymore without reading about some terrible, weather-related calamity, don’t worry. It’s not all...

If it seems like you can’t open a newspaper anymore without reading about some terrible, weather-related calamity, don’t worry. It’s not all in your head. Between reports that 2012 was the hottest year in U.S. history (and somehow still one of the coldest worldwide in the 21st century), photos of a lightless post-Sandy lower Manhattan, and a heat wave that killed 32 senior citizens in Sao Paulo, Brazil, it is getting harder and harder for citizens, lawmakers, and businesses to ignore the impact of an ever-warming planet. And while companies large and small have begun to embrace sustainability as part of their business model, it seems like there is always a fight to enact legislation to protect the environment.

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America's Solar Industry Tries to Show It's Still on Top

China might sell more solar panels, but the U.S. remains a net exporter of solar goods.


In the past few years, China began making more solar panels than the United States. Workers in China are paid less than workers in America or Australia, and domestic solar companies have begun to confront the idea that they might not be able compete with China on manufacturing costs. But the American solar industry wants to show that there’s more to the solar economy than putting together panels.

A new report, sponsored by a solar industry association and conducted by a renewable energy analysis group, found that American companies are net exporter of solar products, despite importing the panels themselves. Last year, American companies exported $5.63 billion worth of solar products, while taking in $3.75 billion worth, according to the report. American exports to China top imports from there by at least $247 million.

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