The U.S.’s solar energy industry is experiencing hard times as a result of the White House’s vague policies in the energy sector. For the second year in a row, the solar sector is forced to reduce its personnel despite the growing demand for clean energy. A 30 percent tariff imposed on every solar panel imported to the country does not help, either: last year, the sector had to trim 8,000 of its jobs.
The non-profit Solar Foundation remains hopeful, though. Even with the recent short-term redundancies, employment in the industry has increased by 159 percent in the last nine years. Moreover, the report, released by the organization, points out that production of solar energy is expected to grow in the coming years. Currently, solar energy accounts for 2.4 percent of all power generated in the U.S. Its workforce is five times as large as in the nuclear industry and twice as large as in the coal mining sector. California was among the states, affected the most by the job cuts, as it is home to a robust solar infrastructure. States, where the solar industry is less developed, have managed to keep the employment curve on the rise.
The team at the Solar Foundation emphasizes that the middle- and long-term prospects are genuinely bright – a 70 percent rise in solar employment in the past five years is proof enough. To compare, overall employment in the U.S. only increased by 9.13 percent during the same space of time. All in all, the solar industry is the 2nd largest employer in the energy sector, only giving in to the natural gas and petroleum sectors.
However, President Trump’s unclear energy policy and high tariffs on solar panels mean the adoption will be slower than expected. Already businesses and utility operators are hesitant to invest in solar energy infrastructure. A lot of projects, that were supposed to be launched, are shelved for an indefinite time, authors of the Solar Foundation’s report say.
Still, even the big players in the energy markets acknowledge the significance of solar energy and are exploring the ways to integrate its production into their business processes. State officials show equal commitment – for example, California has ruled to produce 100% of carbon-neutral power by 2045. There does not seem to be much choice, anyway, with new grim environmental forecasts published continuously.
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