The solar industry in the U.S. may be struggling in a market laden with cheaper Chinese imports but you can’t say it isn’t creating jobs. In a report out this week, the The Solar Foundation, a non-profit, “non-lobbying organization” dedicated to increasing the adoption of solar energy (http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/), released its second annual review of the nation’s solar workforce, noting that hiring in the solar industry is increasing and and the industry now employs “more than 100,000 Americans.” And employment in the industry is expected to grow by 24 percent in the next year, creating 24,000 jobs, according to the report, titled “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce.”
The report also noted that the solar industry is increasing jobs nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the economy as a whole. The solar industry’s job growth rate as of August was 6.8 percent compared to the estimated overall economy rate of 0.7 percent. The report included more than 17,198 solar sites and 100,237 solar jobs in August nationwide.
The Los Angeles Times
led its Business section Oct. 17 with the report because one in every four solar jobs is held by a Californian (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar-jobs-20111017,0,3230671.story
). Of the 100,237 solar jobs nationwide, an estimated 25,575 were in California. The next state in the rankings was Colorado, well back of California with 6,186 solar jobs, followed by Arizona with 4,786. Then came Pennsylvania (4,703), New York (4,279), Florida (4,224), Texas (3,346), Oregon (3,346), New Jersey (2,871) and Massachusetts (2,395).
None of this seemed to stop the slide in stock prices of solar panel manufacturers which has been going on for months. Among the larger caps, Tempe, AZ-based First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR, http://www.firstsolar.com/
), the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar modules, rallied on Oct. 20, up $1.46 to $53.77. But this is a stock that has been as high as $175 this year and was more than $100 as recently as Aug. 31.
Some of the smaller caps included:
China-based Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE: STP, http://www.suntech-power.com/
), a smallcap with a $373 million market cap which makes photovoltaic products and provides construction services, closed on Oct. 20 at $2.07. This stock was trading for $5.25 on Aug. 31 and $2.64 on Sept. 23.
Ontario, Canada-based Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ, http://www.canadian-solar.com/), which sells a variety of solar products, closed Oct. 20 at $3.04, down 16 cents for the day. CSIQ was trading for $6.74 on Aug. 31 and $4.72 Sept. 23.
China-based LDK Solar Co. (NYSE: LDK, http://www.ldksolar.com/), which manufactures solar products and silicon materials, closed Oct. 20 at $3, down 13 cents for the day. This stock was trading at $5.71 on Aug. 31 and $3.40 Sept. 23.
China-based Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL, http://www.trinasolar.com/), which designs, manufactures and sells photovoltaic modules worldwide, closed Oct. 20 at $7.15, down 17 cents for the day. It closed at $15.88 on Aug. 31.
Shanghai-based JA Solar Holdings Co. (Nasdaq: JASO, http://www.jasolar.com), which makes solar cells and other solar products, closed Oct. 20 at $2.14. It closed Aug. 31 at $3.66.