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Solar jobs will continue to grow faster than wind, but slower than other green sectors

Anticipated clean energy jobs growthBetween now and 2020 the green sector could create upwards of 3 million jobs in the U.S. That’s according to a new report from CleanEdison. The highest percentage of the job growth will be in HVAC and building control systems and solar energy. While jobs growth in wind energy is expected to continue but occur at a lower rate of increase then solar or HVAC jobs.

“We did this research for our own internal use. We used that data to determine where we invest in terms of curriculum development, where we think there will be demand for training,” said CleanEdison’s Director of Online Marketing Julia Zhou. In creating the report, the company looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Brookings Institute, among other sources.

The report anticipated that from the period of 2010 to 2020, solar energy jobs would grow by 24 percent, from 15,987 jobs in 2010 to 36,618 in 2020. The only faster growing clean energy sector, according to the report is HVAC and Building Control Systems, which it anticipated would grow at a rate of 29 percent for the 2010 to 2020 period, from 73,600 jobs to 94,944 jobs in 2020. Wind it anticipated would grow a rate of 14 percent to 27,695 jobs from 24,294 jobs.

The anticipated growth rates for solar jobs was on the aggregate level, according to Zhou. “We were seeing more growth there than wind,” she said. “Part of it is that solar can be implemented on the residential level at very small scale. Wind requires a much bigger investment institutional or governmental support.”

CleanEdison anticipates growth in solar jobs would occur even if incentive programs aren’t renewed. “In terms of the incentives, we are seeing funding going down, but we’re not seeing much of an impact, in terms of solar and HVAC,” Zhou said. She contended that people are finding that solar and energy efficiency are offering good values even if the incentives go down.

Zhou said the growth would be highest for HVAC and building control systems because a lot of those jobs would include expanding the role of home inspection jobs. Where home inspectors could gain training in the sector and or add services, like retrofitting home or buildings for energy efficiency. 

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