Solar energy--considered as the fastest growing renewable energy source worldwide, has emerged as one of the biggest job creators in the United States in recent years. about 370,000 people were employed directly or indirectly in this industry, while coal industry provided only 160,000 jobs. With a median annual salary of $40,000, photovoltaic installer is currently the fastest growing job in the country. Other than jobs, nearly half of utility-scale capacity installed in 2017 came from solar, and the rest was renewable. The industry revenues also have grown from $42 million in 2007 to $210 million in 2017. All these surely predict a bright future for this industry in coming years; but is it really that good a situation currently?
Some recent events including the solar trade tariff hike and tax code changes may have negative effect on this growing trend. According to a recent news, the tariff alone may reduce solar installations by 11% from 2018 through 2022. Following these, solar industry have a possibility of slowing down.
Some of the biggest challenges the industry is witnessing today are:
- Companies are now focussing on to maximising revenue by scaling back expansion, other than deploying as much capacity as possible especially on few states, which offer the best returns.
- The recent solar tariff hike by the Trump administration also put this industry in front of a big challenge. The tariff hike will be much more challenging for utility-scale solar projects than for residential. the modules account for a larger share of the total cost of large projects leading to increase in solar installations costs and thereby decreasing the amount of solar installed.
- In some major markets, large amounts of solar generation online have depressing effects on wholesale electricity market prices. Following this, projects may gradually become less economic to install.
Even after these challenges, the future looks promising as this may cause a spike in American solar companies buying locally within the United States. This of course could make solar manufacturing boom in times to come.
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