Industry expert responds as solar jobs rise - Tucson News Now

Industry expert responds as solar jobs rise

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD

With the rising sun comes the rising job market, according to a report.

A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that "jobs in the solar industry increased 17 times faster than the overall U.S. economy" in 2016.

More than 9.8 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2016, the report explains. 

Mark Frigo, Head of Energy Storage for E.ON North America, said he wasn't surprised by the massive growth.

"But I work within the solar industry, so I see it. But I don't think the public really knows about how big a driver behind the economy that the renewable energy industry is. It's solar, it's wind, and energy storage," he said.

His company was part of the group that debuted a new energy storage system at the University of Arizona Tech Park earlier this week.

The IRENA report said that the number of workers in the solar industry grew more than 24 percent from 2015 to 2016, to more than 260,000 people.

"One of the reasons why is that the cost of solar, the cost of wind, and the cost of energy storage, is really coming down," Frigo said. "Now that it's coming down, a lot of utilities are realizing that it's not only good just to put it in because it's emission-free energy, but it makes a lot of economic sense. It's very cost competitive. In many cases, it's lower cost than other traditional forms of generation."

The Annual IRENA review showed that the total number of renewable-energy jobs globally climbed to 9.8 million, when accounting for direct employment in large hydropower worldwide. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany topped the list for most of the renewable-energy jobs.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that more people were employed in solar last year than coal, gas, and oil combined.

"I don't think the public really realizes that. And it's not just people who are actually active on a site or helping to build a project. It's all the manufacturing that goes into building the different pieces, and putting everything together behind the scenes. It's also jobs like accountants, engineers, and technicians," Frigo explained.

Read more about the IRENA report here.

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