President Obama took a well-deserved victory lap on solar during his State of the Union speech that's confirmed by the latest figures on the growth of the US solar industry.
"Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history," said Obama. He's referring to the crucial $90 billion investment under the Recovery Act that got the industry off the ground.
Obama continues: "Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal - in jobs that pay better than average."
Read our article, Recovery Act Provided Unprecedented Support To Clean Energy Industry.
Results for 2015
So true. As of November 2015, 209,000 people are employed by the US solar industry, 35,000 more than the previous year, according to The Solar Foundation's sixth annual census, and another 30,000 will be added this year. Solar has surpassed oil and gas extraction jobs - which stand at 185,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and triple the jobs of the coal-mining industry, which is under 68,000.
Most solar jobs are in installation and two-thirds of them are in residential applications. Qualified employees are in high demand.
In California, where the most solar jobs are, solar is closing in on supplying 10% of the state's power, more than wind or hydro, says grid manager California Independent System Operator. The enormous solar farms in the state supplied 6.7% of electricity last year, and the 467,000-plus smaller provided the rest.
Solar adoption by corporations is rising quickly, ending 2015 with 907 megawatts (MW) installed across 1700 systems - a rise of 59% during 2015, says the Solar Means Business report by Solar Energy Industries Association.
For the fourth year in a row, Walmart ranked #1 with 142 MW at 348 locations. Other top companies: Kohl's, Apple, Macy's, Walgreens, Target, IKEA, Prologis, FedEx, Intel, General Motors, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway, Hartz Mountain, Staples, L'Oreal, Kaiser Permanente and Toyota.
See where your state stands on solar policies: