Is Solar a Hobby Job? No Longer!

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first solar rpcsIn 1999, I had an internship at Sunlight & Power as a laborer for solar thermal and PV installations on residences. One day a project would be in Oakland, and the next day we would be in Redwood City. Solar was few and far between; my father called it a “hobby job” …

Today, the Department of Energy estimates that solar jobs are no longer a hobby. In fact, over 250,000 people are employed by this bright emerging technology sector. A light in the dark coal mining history of energy, the renewable energy industry along with distributed energy storage aims to create infrastructure jobs that cannot be exported or imported. Solar installed on US soil must be installed in the US. These jobs are only threatened by politics.

As a microstudy, our little company has worked with 417 local hires in South Carolina, Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Mississippi – and I think I am missing a few others. We provide training and work. Our developer & EPC clients provide these great and expanding opportunities to build infrastructure that is local. In one particular town, Barnwell, South Carolina – the town treated us as family for many of the local sons & daughters came to work with us on the solar farm…. and there is more to come! We cannot stop the sun.

How many people work with your solar company? I bet it’s a growing number.

Why stop that growth? I am yet to hear a valid reason; yes there are technical challenges with storage and distribution – but let’s not run away from those challenges.

When we look at the world, what do we see? China installs solar too, yes. Is that a bad thing? The Chinese have installed more solar in the last 3 years than the USA and Germany (#2 and #3 PV Countries) combined in the last 15 years. Why not benefit from those economies of scale that a global economy creates?

Who are we protecting when we place a tariff?

In India, the price of solar panels has been reported as low as $0.34/watt-DC. The entire WORLD is installing solar these days. Why would we build a tariff wall to put ourselves behind the rest of the world? Let’s use these valuable US dollar$ to buy some non-plastic energy producing goods that will create skilled jobs, improve the infrastructure, and beef up energy security in the USA. If we let this thing ride, the opportunities and jobs will continue to grow.

In the US, new states are embracing wind, solar, and energy storage – with minnesota, illinois, nebraska, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and many more realizing that solar energy is less expensive, and easier to deploy and maintain, than any other type of energy generation.

Let the sun shine in! This industry is not a hobby; it is now a global juggernaut. The USA should be leading the way, so I vote that we raise the bar.


Adam Larner
VP Operations, RPCS

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