Industries Energy/Green

Virginia saw 65 percent growth in solar industry-related jobs in 2016

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Virginia is one of the fastest-growing solar job markets in the country, according to a survey by the Solar Foundation, a non-profit research organization.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 shows that Virginia is second in the Southeast and tied with Utah for ninth in the U.S. for year-over-year solar job growth.

Overall, Virginia ranks 20th in the country in the total number of solar jobs, with 3,236 jobs – a 65 percent increase from 2015. Employment in the solar industry across the U.S. has grown more than 25 percent since 2015, and more than 178 percent since 2010.

The Solar Foundation also released city and county solar industry-related job figures in its State Solar Jobs Census 2016. Fairfax County is the top locality in Virginia for solar jobs with more than 460 jobs in 2016, a 47 percent increase from 2015.

The Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News and Richmond metropolitan statistical areas also saw significant increases in solar jobs in 2016, with 75 percent and 79 percent growth respectively.

In announcing the 2016 census results Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, “Today’s announcement is a testament to the great work we’re doing to build the new Virginia economy, one that is less reliant on federal spending and focuses on growth in innovative sectors like the solar industry. It is clear that Virginia is moving in the right direction, but there is still work to do.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore said that companies are “increasingly demanding more renewable energy options when deciding where to make investments.  Given this growing component of economic development, it is essential that consumers and businesses have access to affordable, reliable and diverse energy resources.” 

Virginia’s growth can be seen in numerous areas of the solar supply chain including nearly 1,750 installation jobs, representing a 46 percent increase over 2015; more than 575 project development jobs, a 108 percent increase; and more than 300 manufacturing jobs, an 88 percent increase.

Women represent nearly 38 percent of Virginia’s solar workforce, and Latino or Hispanic workers represent 22 percent of Virginia’s solar workforce.

Since 2014, more than 174 megawatts of solar have been installed in Virginia, including an 80-megawatt facility built by Amazon and a 20-megawatt public-private partnership with the Commonwealth, Dominion and Microsoft.  According to the governor, revenue in the clean energy sector generally has grown four fold in the last three years under to $2 billion.

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