Solar energy job growth in the U.S. is still far below where it was in 2015, as companies struggle to compete with cheap foreign competition and as states ramp up efforts to protect their clean energy resources.
But the numbers still show that solar energy is a significant part of the U of S economy.
The nation is now home to about 7 million active workers in solar technology and manufacturing, up from about 3.5 million in 2010, according to a new report from the U:S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
About 14 percent of U. S. workers now work in solar manufacturing, compared with less than 10 percent in 2010.
Solar energy is now the fastest-growing U..
S industry, as the sector is expected to double its share of the economy to more than 20 percent by 2020.
Solar energy companies are hiring, too.
The U. s Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that solar companies are adding more than 1.4 million new jobs this year, an increase of more than 2.5 percent from last year.
The sector added more than 8 million jobs in 2015 and 2016, while solar jobs fell slightly.
But the solar industry is still struggling to compete against cheaper foreign competition.
Solar companies are struggling to stay competitive against cheaper U.s. competitors.
In 2015, Chinese manufacturers dominated the market with a total of 9.3 percent of all U. states solar contracts, according the BLS.
That was up from 3.7 percent in 2016.
The gap narrowed in 2017, when Chinese competitors lost about a third of their share of U s solar contracts to foreign firms.
The Chinese manufacturers also outpaced domestic competitors in new orders for solar panels and panels and in total solar energy production.
The top five solar manufacturers in the country in 2017 were SolarCity Corp., SolarCity NV, SolarWorld Corp., Sunrun Corp., and Sungevity Corp. The bottom five was SolarWorld NV, Sunrun NV, and SunGevity Corp, according data compiled by the Belsky Center for Energy and Environment.
The companies that have been most successful in the last few years have been those that offer both a cheap and reliable source of energy.
Sunrun has a robust solar business that has been expanding rapidly over the last decade, while SolarWorld has been a major solar manufacturer for years.
SolarCity is now part of a consortium of major companies to sell energy storage, a type of energy storage technology that is expected soon to become more widely available.
Sungeazy is a leader in electric vehicle charging stations.
In addition to the U s Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Energy has a Solar Jobs Census program that collects data about jobs and solar installations in each state.
Some solar industry observers are not optimistic about the job growth the industry will see in the coming years.
“The sun is still shining and jobs are coming in, but the solar sector has yet to catch up to its domestic competitors,” said Mike W. Clements, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former director of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“With the new solar leasing and installation tax credit, the industry is in a better position to make up for lost time and capitalize on opportunities that existed before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed.”
Despite the rapid growth of the solar energy industry, it still faces some hurdles.
While the federal government has created incentives for solar manufacturers to invest in new equipment, many states have restrictions that prevent the federal solar industry from expanding, said Richard Ruhle, a solar energy analyst at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit research organization.
Some states, like New York, are looking at restricting the number of solar panels or limiting the amount of solar energy available.
In addition, the federal tax credit program is set to expire in 2019.
The tax credit is set at a percentage of gross domestic product, or GDP, rather than a dollar amount.
That means it does not help solar companies that are looking to expand or are working to make ends meet while facing challenges in the marketplace.
Many of the state restrictions that make solar companies less competitive, said Clements: The lack of a state-based solar incentive, the inability of states to enforce existing rules, and a lack of state-level regulations.
Solar jobs still important, but not enoughThe growth of solar is good news for solar companies.
While some companies have seen their markets shrink in recent years due to the tax credit and the lack of federal incentives, other companies are finding it easier to compete for customers.
SunPower Co., a Texas-based company that manufactures solar panels for residential customers, recently announced plans to hire more than 100 workers.
SolarWorld, a California-based manufacturer of solar power equipment, plans to add 400 workers to its workforce in 2018, a move that would make it the nation’s third-largest solar company.
In 2017, SunPower added more solar workers than it did the