The Solar Jobs Map, charting our economic future

“Solar means jobs.”

The Solar Jobs Map

The Solar Jobs Map

That was one of the first points Adam Browning made when we talked in mid-March. It was also one of the last things he said before our conversation ended. And in between, he paraphrased the concept another four or five times.

As co-founder of the Vote Solar Initiative, a non-profit with a mission to stop global warming by speeding the change to solar power, Browning knows that one of the best arguments for harnessing energy from the sun (stopping climate chaos, aside) is the industry’s promise to generate jobs. It’s an especially potent argument when the nation’s official unemployment rate stands at 8.6% — the highest since 1983.

Others, from Democratic President Barack Obama to Florida’s Republican Governor Charlie Crist (a true rising star in the GOP) make the same point, and just as passionately as Browning.

“There’s gold in green,” Crist said in an interview about solar power.

Now, the Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation (SEREF),  has put together a slick multimedia map documenting the connections between solar power and job creation.


The slides above are just a few grabs from a fully animated map found here.

The Solar Jobs Map was a collaborative effort, with SEREF joining Google and Navigant Consulting to produce the tool. You can use the map on their website, or download the entire dataset as a KML file for use with Google Earth. (SEREF is affiliated with the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, DC. SEIA has its own Website that’s definitely worth checking out, too.)

In addition to job projections by state for the next eight years, the map is loaded with information that’s both useful and — I’ll put this in everyday terms: way, way cool.

Arizona Jobs

Arizona Jobs

For example, you can drill down to get the total number of jobs for each state by clicking on the corresponding location on the map. In addition to the gross number of solar jobs anticipated in 2016 for Arizona, the graph on the right breaks those figures down further for photovoltaics, solar water heating and industrial-sized concentrating solar power.

That barely scratches the surface of the information now available in the Solar Jobs Map. Have fun exploring it.

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