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Less energy: Solar is a growth industry in the recession

October 6, 2011

I blogged last week about the tipping point for solar, and it seems like the news keeps coming about the growth of solar energy. Demand is growing, prices are dropping, and the technology keeps getting better.

A recent article entitled “Keeping Up With the Solar (and Wind) Joneses” talks about the inspirational effect of installing solar in a small West Virginia town. The article references the Solar Foundation’s 2011 Solar Jobs Census, which documents a 6.8% growth in solar jobs from August 2010 to August 2011.  As the article further quotes from the census: “To put this into context, the overall economy only grew 0.7% and the fossil fuel electric generation industry actually experienced a 2% decrease in its workforce during that same period. Clearly the solar industry is doing something right.”

Another article entitled “Growing Solar Power Industry Signals Need For Federal And State Support” describes the falling costs of solar – 11 percent in the first half of 2011 and 17 percent in 2010. The article makes the point that solar and other renewable energy sources receive federal funding at one tenth the level that nuclear was funded at during its early years. The recent successes of solar are in spite of meager funding.

Solar is harder and more expensive to do at a small scale (such as for a single family home), but each panel installed is a small step towards a clean energy future. In addition to the reasons I referenced in the blog post last week, one good reason to invest in solar is to drive the market. Much like the market for organic food – once there is sufficient desire the prices will come down. The demand for solar is starting to drive prices down, but there is still much progress needed. You can help by considering solar on your home, or if your home isn’t well located for solar access you can invest in a community solar installation, such as Seattle City Light’s program.

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