Nevada led the nation last year in solar industry jobs, on a per capita basis, a new report shows.
In total, the Silver State had 7,562 jobs in the solar industry in 2022, a 5.1 percent increase from the previous year, according to the National Solar Jobs Census, a report from the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
Ed Gilliland, senior director of strategic initiatives at IREC, said Nevada has many utility grade solar projects already built and more on the way as well as an abundance of rooftop and residential solar panels.
“(Nevada) is doing very well compared to other states,” he said. “Going forward … we have the Inflation Reduction Act kicking in, then we’d expect Nevada to probably have a really strong 2023.”
Nevada’s largest electric utility, NV Energy, estimates it has about 2,000 megawatts of power generated by large scale commercial solar projects, making up about 22 percent of the utility’s capacity, a NV Energy spokesperson said. That number is expected to rise as NV Energy plans to use more solar projects to meet renewable energy goals.
Utah, California, Vermont and Hawaii round out the top five for the most solar jobs, per capita, which is based on the number of solar jobs divided by the state’s population, according to the report.
Though Nevada was at the top of the list for total jobs, per capita, it ranked eighth in the nation for the total number of solar jobs. California had the most with 78,000, with Florida coming in second with over 12,000 solar jobs.
Nationally, there are about 264,000 people who spend a majority of their work hours on solar projects — an increase of just under 9,000 jobs or 3.5 percent from 2021. The ICRE didn’t collect data on what companies employ the solar workers.
Overall, the solar industry in 2022 lost 6,000 jobs connected to large utility scale solar projects, but the residential solar industry made up for it by adding 9,500 jobs, Gilliland said.
Large-scale projects were impacted, in part, because of supply chain issues in receiving solar panels from China and other southeast Asian countries, he said. Residential solar projects weren’t hampered by this as much as they need fewer supplies and could heavily rely on products made in the United States.
NV Energy has indicated that two solar projects scheduled to come online in Northern Nevada could be delayed or canceled due to supply chain issues.
Moving forward, supply chain issues aren’t expected to greatly restrain the solar industry, the report stated. The report included robust expectations for 2023 and expects a 61 percent increase in utility solar projects, an 8 percent increase for residential solar projects and a 3 percent increase for nonresidential solar projects this year.
“(Solar) is going to be really strong,” Gilliland said. “There’s gonna be a tremendous amount of growth in battery storage and installation of batteries along with solar, and I think it’s a very positive outlook going forward.”