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U.S. Solar Employment Rate Growing 10 Times Faster Than National Average

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As the generation of solar energy grows, so does the industry's employment base.

According to the fourth annual National Solar Jobs report released today by The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar energy research and education organization, the solar industry added 23,682 jobs from September 2012 to September 2013. Solar employment grew by 20 percent during that period.

Total employment for the U.S. solar industry reached 142,698 in 2013.

Graphic credit: The Solar Foundation/groSolar

Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period. 

“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of The Solar Foundation, said in a statement. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers.

"That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

Graphic credit: The Solar Foundation

TSF predicts the addition of more than 22,000 jobs this year. Nearly 70 percent of the nation's solar jobs in 2013 were installation or manufacturing positions. 

Graphic credit: The Solar Foundation

The jobs in the “Other” category include workers at nonprofits, the government, and academia.

“The solar industry is a proven job-creator," said Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

“In Colorado and across the country, we have seen that when the right policies are in place to create long-term market certainty, this industry continues to add jobs to our economy.”

TSF, BW Research Partnership and the GW Solar Institute spoke to thousands of solar firms around the country. For example, SolarCity added more than 2,000 U.S. jobs since the beginning of 2013, CEO Lyndon Rive said. Meanwhile the 400 dealers in SunPower's network employ more than 6,000 people across the U.S., with two major solar power plants the company deals with createing 1,300 jobs, CEO Tom Werner said.

"When you install a solar panel you create a local job that can’t be outsourced,” Rive said. “More than 90 percent of Americans believe we should be using more solar, and fewer than 1 percent have it today.

"We’ve barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen.”

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

 

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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