U.S. job growth powered by the sun

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 10:20 AM

[Cross-posted with the google.org blog]

Solar energy has long been touted as a clean alternative to traditional electricity generation, but building a clean energy economy will also create jobs. Thanks to federal and state policies to support renewable energy, it's estimated that the solar industry will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in coming years. Based on a study by Navigant Consulting Inc., and with the help of Google.org and Google Earth Outreach, our friends at the Solar Energy Research & Education Foundation (SEREF) have developed a U.S. solar jobs map in Google Earth. You can also view this as a KML in Google Earth.

The U.S. solar industry is expected to support more than 440,000 permanent, fulltime jobs, including many in the manufacturing and construction industry, by the year 2016. The solar jobs growth layer shows where these jobs are likely to be created across the country. You'll see that many of these jobs are being created in states that have experienced the worst of the current economic crisis, including Pennyslvania, Michigan, and Ohio.

Clicking on the solar icon in each state shows annual job growth over an eight year period, as well as how the three most common solar technologies—photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, and solar water heating—stack-up in terms of job creation.

In addition to exploring the job growth numbers, you can view a 3-D simulation of the job growth over time and compare the solar energy resources of each state with their job growth potential. In the additional data, you can also see solar installations, like photovoltaic panels and solar water heating at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta and a solar power tower at the Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) in Southern California, to see what they actually look like in Google Earth.


Because predicting job creation in the future relies on advanced economic modeling, it can be difficult to predict where all the solar jobs will be created. Nearly 30,000 jobs will likely be created across the other 29 states that aren’t explicitly covered in this map. That means solar energy truly is capable of creating a green economy for the entire U.S.

This map was created as part of SEREF’s and Google.org’s shared objective to rapidly scale-up the use of solar technologies in the U.S. so that the environmental, economic, and national security benefits of renewables can be realized.

To check out the map and learn more about solar energy, please visit http://www.seref.us/solarjobsmap.html.