THE SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRY IS BOOMING
May 6th 2018 at 8:53pm Published by firstdownadmin
The U.S. solar industry generated US$154 billion in economic activity in 2016, including direct sales, wages, salaries, benefits, taxes and fees. Its revenues have grown from $42 million in 2007 to $210 million in 2018.
Solar is projected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. However, recent events such as the solar trade tariff and tax code changes could dampen that trend. According to one estimate, the tariff alone will reduce solar installations by 11 percent from 2019 through 2022.
About 80 percent of solar panels installed in the United States last year were built overseas. While the industry was invented here, China has poured up to $47 billion into tax breaks and incentives in order to develop what it views as a strategic capability.
The three types of technologies most commonly used to harness solar energy are photovoltaics, concentrating solar power and direct thermal:
Often referred to as PV, this technology converts sunlight directly into electricity using panels. Most commonly used in residential homes, photovoltaic panels are made up of many solar cells that have semiconductor materials to capture the light. When the sunlight hits those cells, electrons are knocked loose, creating an electric current. The electrons flow through a circuit on the panels and generate electricity. The more panels on a home or business, the more energy that can be generated.
Referred to as CSP, concentrated solar power is used mostly in large power plants and is not typically recommended for residential use. CSP technology concentrates sunlight using mirrors and reflectors to collect solar energy and turn it into thermal energy.
Solar photovoltaic installers make up about half of this workforce. In fact, solar PV installer is currently the fastest-growing job in the nation, with a median annual salary of nearly $40,000. For comparison, the coal industry only supports about 160,000 jobs
Currently the top 3 solar manufacturers in the world are JinkoSolar, JA Solar, and Trina Solar (respectively) determined by market share among panel manufacturing companies. The biggest solar installation companies in the U.S. are Sunrun and Vivint Solar.