Solar job growth exploding in NM

New Mexico’s solar job growth is on fire, with employment up 54 percent last year, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Foundation.

As of December, 2,929 people worked in either installations, manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development and support positions, said Solar Foundation President and Executive Director Andrea Luecke. That’s up from 1,899 local jobs in 2015, making New Mexico the 23rd fastest-growing state for solar jobs nationwide and the eighth highest for industry employment per capita.

“The solar industry grew about 179 times faster than the overall state economy last year,” Luecke told the Journal.

The nonprofit publishes its Solar Jobs Census every year based on direct industry surveys. Data collection for this year’s report was financed largely by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the DOE’s annual Energy and Employment Report, Luecke said.

Overall, 260,000 people worked directly in solar-related jobs nationwide as of December, up 25 percent from 2015. Industry sales reached $62 billion across the country.

Adding indirect impact, the industry supported more than 788,000 U.S. jobs in 2016, generating $154 billion in total economic activity, according to the report.

Installation of residential, commercial and utility-scale photovoltaic systems accounted for about 40 percent of the state’s solar jobs. Manufacturing followed with 29 percent, and sales and distribution with 14 percent.

Solar jobs are scattered statewide, but about 60 percent are in Albuquerque. Solar employment in the state’s largest city grew by 78 percent last year, providing 1,767 jobs as of December.

New Mexico’s solar workforce is also diverse.

“About 45 percent of New Mexico’s solar workers are women, which is unusual,” Luecke said. “Nationally, about 28 percent are women. And ethnic minorities make up about 51 percent of New Mexico’s solar workforce.”

The jobs census coincides with the latest Solar Energy Industry Association report on growth national growth in solar installations in 2016, released in early March. Last year, the industry installed nearly 14.8 gigawatts of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar capacity nationwide, according to the association. That’s a new industry record by far, doubling the 7.3 GW that was installed in 2015.

New Mexico companies report robust business, and optimism for a lot more growth this year. Albuquerque-based installation and wholesale firm Affordable Solar reached $55 million in revenue last year. It projects about $75 million this year.

“We have some large-scale projects slated to start this year, and we project about 60 percent growth in residential and commercial installations,” said CEO Ryan Centerwall. “We just hired a number of people, and we have 40 more positions open now.”

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango


"

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Is methane reduction the low-hanging fruit?
Energy
We will soon have the technology ... We will soon have the technology to track and pinpoint industrial leaks
2
A cultural crossroads and history book of the land
Energy
Los Alamos National Laboratory is seeking ... Los Alamos National Laboratory is seeking a 12.5-mile, 115-kilovolt power transmission line that would cut across the plateau
3
Top New Mexico lawmakers concerned about oil and gas ...
Energy
A group of powerful New Mexico ... A group of powerful New Mexico lawmakers is questioning whether state environment officials have done enough to weigh the potential economic effects of a ...
4
NM wind project of historic size nearly complete
Business
Renewable power developer Pattern Energy is ... Renewable power developer Pattern Energy is nearing completion of a mammoth wind project in east cen ...
5
Acoma governor: Oil, gas leasing needs tribal input
ABQnews Seeker
Archaeologist notes impact of 100 years ... Archaeologist notes impact of 100 years of rampant development is substantial
6
PNM, Avangrid sweeten merger deal
Energy
Offer of strict regulatory controls, millions ... Offer of strict regulatory controls, millions for economic development
7
New Mexico and the federal infrastructure bill: FAQs
ABQnews Seeker
Additional funding under grant programs included ... Additional funding under grant programs included in the act would also be available
8
NM could get billions in new federal funding
ABQnews Seeker
State a key player in Biden's ... State a key player in Biden's clean energy investment plans
9
NM takes multi-pronged approach to curbing methane emissions
ABQnews Seeker
Last year, New Mexico's state government ... Last year, New Mexico's state government worked with federal regulators to document aerial footage of oil and gas sites.