The Solar Foundation recently released a paper at Intersolar North America about how the growth of energy storage could impact solar jobs in the United States. One figure within the paper which particularly jumps out is the estimate that by 2021, there could be 27,000 jobs related to solar and energy storage. This number includes 9,000 energy storage jobs linked with solar, and about 18,000 solar jobs which would not be available without the presence of energy storage.
“Storage technologies are making solar energy even more reliable, while increasing its appeal among consumers. Our preliminary research has found that storage will also have a significant economic impact, creating tens of thousands of new, high-quality solar jobs within the next five years,” explained the Solar Foundation’s Executive Director, Andrea Luecke.
The paper estimates the largest number of solar and storage positions by 2021 would be in residential installations, with 8,305 linked to storage and 16,609 storage-induced PV jobs. The estimate for non-residential positions is 600 for storage and 1,200 for storage-induced PV. The least number of jobs, according to the paper, would be for utility-scale with 122 for storage installation and 245 storage-induced PV jobs. Another striking estimate is that “Assuming expected strong growth in time-of-use rates and virtual power plants, solar + storage might represent nearly 40% of energy storage MWs deployed in 2021.”
That energy storage is an effective solution to the solar energy intermittency problem is no surprise to anyone who follows clean energy news, but the speed at which energy storage has grown recently has been very encouraging. At times, because the news about solar and energy storage is often about the technology, there might be a tendency to overlook the job creation that is also happening.
The paper also includes an important detail about the storage jobs: “Storage deployment typically includes a battery, inverter, software controls, wiring, and onsite programming. Skills and wages for storage deployment are expected to mirror the median wage for PV installation ($21 per hour in 2015). ” There are plenty of jobs that pay quite a bit less, so that rate is a good one for many people.