Almost 10% of the people that work in America’s solar industry are veterans, 13,192 employees.
In fact, at 9.2% of solar employees, veterans are over-represented in the solar industry – they make up about 8% of the US workforce.
That’s according to Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, produced by the Veterans’ clean energy group Operation Free and The Solar Foundation.
"We know first-hand that clean, affordable domestic power makes America and the world safer," points out Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance, who is former Intelligence Officer in the Navy.
How do they know that? Because they have been exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan to the benefits of solar energy, as the military has increasingly adopted it as part of its operations.
"In Afghanistan, tactical solar technologies proved valuable and militarily relevant. As a result, this new generation of veterans is leaving the service with greater appreciation and exposure to these technologies," says Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy.
US troops in battle zones are using everything from portable solar panels to solar tent shields to cutting-edge, solar-powered security systems that help them carry out critical missions.
Using solar avoids the need for truck convoys to transport fuel – one of the more common targets of attacks by insurgents or explosive devices. Sadly, over 3,300 people have died from these attacks.
"Today, the Defense Department is one of the largest institutional users of solar energy in the world," notes Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "After using solar energy on military bases and in the field, many returning servicemen and servicewomen are finding great career opportunities at solar firms, which have been actively recruiting veterans. Many other veterans have started firms of their own."
The solar industry is benefiting mightily, because veterans bring a strong technical background, an ethic of teamwork, and leadership skills that contribute to the greater success of the company, says the report.
Most work in either installation or manufacturing. Jobs span widely: solar designers, installers, engineers, managers, site assessors or technicians on the installation side, and line supervisors, engineers, marketing or accounting on the manufacturing side.
At this week’s hearing in the House, "American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Veterans," Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said, "Just as we have an all-of-the-above national energy strategy, we need to have an all-of-the-above veteran employment strategy. As was outlined in a report released by the Solar Foundation today, the solar industry employs a higher percentage of veterans than the broader national workforce. These are good-paying, highly skilled jobs in a sustainable, renewable industry that increases national security through energy independence. I look forward to discussing ways to increase these opportunities for our brave servicemen and women returning home."
Here’s the report: