Solar Jobs Surge: Minnesota Workforce More Than Doubles In Two Years
Minnesota’s solar industry experienced a job surge in the past two years with its workforce more than doubling, according to a recent report.
Data compiled by The Solar Foundation in its 2015 Minnesota Solar Jobs Census notes 1,131 solar jobs were added between 2013 and 2015, an increase of 131 percent.
With roughly 2,000 workers statewide, the Washington D.C.-based solar energy nonprofit said the state’s hiring rate would diminish only slightly in 2016 with 410 new positions expected to open. Minnesota maintains the 22nd largest solar workforce in the nation.
“Minnesota’s solar-job success is driven by innovative public policies and market forces,” Minnesota Department of Commerce commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement. The recent uptick in solar investments tie back to the state’s 2013 passing of the Solar Energy Standard, a requirement for investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to obtain 1.5 percent of their electricity sales from solar by 2020, with a goal of 10 percent by 2030.
“We expect solar power in Minnesota to expand dramatically from 35 megawatts in 2015 to at least 1,000 megawatts by 2020,” Rothman said. “This growth in clean energy is great news for both our economy and our environment.”
The demographic make-up of Minnesota solar workers was particularly unique, the census said. More than a quarter of the state’s solar workforce identify as Latino or Hispanic, which is more than double the national average. Veterans also comprise nearly ten percent of those working at Minnesota solar firms.
Nearly half of the jobs exist in sales and distribution (949 workers), while manufacturing, installation, and product development make up most of the other positions (925 workers). The state’s solar workforce is largely concentrated in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and the counties of Stearns, Houston, and St. Louis.