The Solar Energy Industries Association, based in Washington, D.C., says there was a 45 percent increase in installed energy systems between 2006 and 2007. More than 3,400 companies are in the solar energy sector, employing about 25,000 to 35,000 workers. The jobs include manufacturers, distributors, installers, suppliers and project developers.
Solar workers install solar panels that convert the sun's rays into electricity that helps run things like a building's appliances and lights. The surplus electricity can be stored in batteries for later use. When the batteries are full, the surplus electricity can then be exported back to the electrical grid to offset costs from the utility company. Solar workers also install thermal collectors, which convert the sun's rays into heat, which is used to heat and cool different parts of a building.
The Times quoted a spokeswoman for the organization, who said that they estimate the sector will grow to more than 110,000 direct solar jobs by 2016.