How Is The U.S. Reenergizing Investment In Solar Energy?

Last week, during a visit to Salt Lake City’s Hill Air Force Base, President Obama highlighted, among other clean energy topics, a revival in our country’s solar industry. Not only has the sector seen a growth of 30,000 new workers between 2013 and 2014, upcoming investments and projected job growth points to significant solar industry prosperity over the coming year.

The real news, however, concerns a special jobs and clean energy boosting initiative that could help the U.S. employ more veterans, combat climate change, and put 75,000 trained and skilled Americans to work over the next five years.

More Jobs And Fewer Emissions
This news comes shortly after the Obama administration announced a new target to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent over the next ten years.  The Solar Ready Vets jobs initiative that the President discussed in Utah this past Friday may be a contributor to that goal, which would have greenhouse gas emissions cut to levels below those seen in 2005.


Solar Ready Vets Follows SunShot
If you think national solar industry investment sounds oddly familiar, that may be due to the fact that this latest objective is an increase of the 50,000 solar worker goal announced in 2015. That previous initiative sought to incentivize 400 U.S. community colleges to train instructors and students for careers related to the U.S. solar industry.

That program is reported to have played a major role in training more than 30,000 students and advancing the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.

Getting Vets Into STEM
The recently announced Solar Ready Vets seeks to encourage STEM-based, clean energy career growth among veterans transitioning from active duty to work in the private sector. Apart from installing solar panels seen on more and more homes and businesses throughout the U.S., the new workforce would help get solar projects connected to power grid and help ensure building code compliance.

Military bases throughout the U.S. are expected to serve as the initiative’s job training centers.


Coming Together For A Brighter Future?
Supporters of the initiative are reported to believe that skills acquired in the military could translate to well into the solar industry, which is seeing growing demand for workers and increased demand by U.S. homeowners.

Will the call for high skilled workers, vets in need of steady work, and the imperative to cut carbon emissions all come together to create a brighter future for the economy and the environment?

Tell us your thoughts on this initiative in the comments.

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Camryn Shea

Is a longtime business consultant and a writer who loves to read about the Maker Movement that’s been made possible through technology. In her free time, she enjoys antiquing and touring vineyards.

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I am all for maximizing solar energy. I am glad to learn that colleges are providing course that train people to fill solar energy related jobs. The more this initiative grows the more there will be a demand to fill such jobs. I am also glad to see that veterans are being considered for this type of work. The people who serve the country are too often overlooked once they return to civilian life.


Solar energy’s rapid growth in America is evident – even casual observers will note the proliferation of solar photovoltaics across the country. But sheer size is usually illustrated best by statistics, and in this case, the stat is 418%. It’s true solar is still a small part of America’s energy mix – even with this growth, solar energy still only makes up just over 1% of total national generation capacity. But quadrupling capacity in just four years is an indisputable testament to the potential for solar to decarbonize our economy and decentralize our power system.


One other alternative form of energy are Flow batteries. They are not new (and they are similar, in some ways, to fuel cells), but they have never really caught on. They were invented in France in the 19th century and studied by NASA in the 1970s as potential power sources in space or on the moon. Now, They’re being viewed as a possible way to help the electrical grid handle greater amounts of renewable energy.


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