One in every four solar energy jobs in America is held by a Californian, and growth in the clean-tech industry is burgeoning nationwide, a new study said.
In August, California had an estimated 25,575 solar-related jobs out of 100,237 for all 50 states, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2011. The census is scheduled for release Monday by the Solar Foundation, a research and education organization in Washington.
California's solar jobs tally was more than four times greater than runner-up Colorado.
The Golden State ranked first in the nation for generating electricity from both photovoltaic solar panels and concentrated solar power systems that use mirrors to create steam to run turbines, the study said.
"This report shows that the solar industry is not only creating green jobs across California but that the industry is forecast to continue growing at a much faster pace than the overall U.S. economy," said Michelle Kinman, a clean energy advocate for Environment California. "California industry and policymakers have a tremendous opportunity to build on this solid foundation and make solar a centerpiece of the state's energy policy."
Nationally, employment in all parts of the solar industry, including manufacturing, installation, residential, commercial and large-scale power generation, grew 6.8% in the 12-month period that ended in August. Overall U.S. job growth was less than 1% for the same period, the census said.
Growth is expected to accelerate 24%, creating 24,000 jobs, over the next year, based on a survey of solar employers.
The industry's momentum should continue despite a scandal surrounding the bankruptcy of Northern California solar panel maker Solyndra, industry advocates said. The Fremont company recently closed after getting a $535-million federal loan guarantee.
"We have to look beyond the failure of one company and see the tremendous success that's occurring here," said Arno Harris, chief executive of San Francisco solar developer Recurrent Energy.
David Hochschild, vice president of Fremont-based Solaria Corp., said the technology "is on the cusp of playing a large role in mainstream markets."
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States ranked by
the number of solar industry jobs:
1. California 25,575
2. Colorado 6,186
3. Arizona 4,786
4. Pennsylvania 4,703
5. New York 4,279
6. Florida 4,224
7. Texas 3,346
7. Oregon 3,346
8. New Jersey 2,871
9. Massachusetts 2,395
Source: National Solar Jobs Census 2011