There has been an emerging shift toward renewable energy in the United States for some time, and one of the most rapidly growing sectors is solar energy. Solar energy, of course, is energy harvested from the sun and converted into electricity, which is accomplished through the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar energy systems. Here’s a quick snapshot of the solar energy industry and how it’s growing in the U.S.
The Solar Industry
Because solar energy is becoming more popular, the number of people the industry employs is also growing pretty quickly. According to the Solar Foundation, more than 174,000 people work in the solar industry in the United States, which is about a 20% increase over employment totals in 2014. People who work in the solar industry include installers, electricians, salespeople, engineers, and designers.
Rebates and Solar Incentives
One of the biggest draws of solar energy is that it’s cost efficient — business owners and homeowners often opt for a solar energy system to save on their utility bills. However, there are a number of different incentives and rebates for solar energy system installations at both the federal and state levels, which makes commercial and residential solar power systems much more affordable than they would be otherwise.
Residential Solar Power Systems
According to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar power will be used in about 1 million American homes in the next five years. Aside from the affordability that rebates and incentives allow and the savings that solar energy systems offer, homeowners can find other advantages of installing one as well — from adding to the overall value of the home, to getting in on the energy trend that we’re already seeing in the U.S.
About 308 megawatts of solar electric capacity were installed in Massachusetts in 2014 alone, and solar energy is certainly a shift that’s only going to grow and become more prominent in the coming years.