New figures highlight the contrasting fortunes of the solar energy sector in Germany and the US.
Germany's solar manufacturing sector is dwindling but employment in the American solar industry as a whole has grown by 20%, according to a job census carried out by the Solar Foundation.
Their results found that 142,698 people were employed in the sector in 2013, up 23,682, or 19.9%, on the previous year. The national average rate of employment growth was 1.9%.
“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53% in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers.”
Commenting on the new figures, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said: “President Obama has set an ambitious goal to double electricity generation from renewable sources once again by 2020, and a vibrant US workforce is vital to achieving this. To support a growing workforce and a new generation of clean energy leaders, the Energy Department is providing training and education opportunities for engineers, utility workers and students, as well as supporting projects across the country, to ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation.”
Meanwhile, jobs in Germany’s solar manufacturing sector were reported to have halved in the previous two years, according to official government figures the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper claimed to have seen.
The paper said that employment had fallen from 10,200 at the start of 2012 to 4,800 in November 2013.
A number of German manufacturers and project developers have faced bankruptcy or major restructuring in recent years including SolarWorld, Conergy, Solarstrom, Gehrlicher, juwi, Solarwatt and CENTROSOLAR, while German multinationals Siemens and Bosch have withdrawn from the sector.
PV installations in Germany have declined drastically in 2013, compared to previous years, impacting installer firms as well.
In 2012, the PV industry employed approximately 88,000 people throughout the supply chain in Germany, according to the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU).