Speaking on the opening day of the 38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), Austin Solar Day, Michael Kuhn, CEO of ImagineSolar, said the solar and smart grid industries are launching an expanding wave of new technologies and business models that are disruptive to the traditional energy industry.
The IEEE PVSC is the premier technical conference covering all aspects of PV technology from basic material science to installed system performance. Kuhn presented what is happening in the solar and smart grid industries, what is creating their growth, and what career opportunities are available now. He gave an overview of several solar career pathways. He also spoke about diverse career opportunities being created as the smart grid is implemented across the nation.
“There is a need for specialized training and continuing education to stay on top of this wave,” Kuhn said. “Career opportunities in this field are available to everyone including engineers, electricians, entrepreneurs, and other professionals.”
The solar industry has grown significantly over the past decade as the shift from nonrenewables is ugmented by the vision of a sustainable future in the U.S. The solar industry boasts a job growth rate of 6.8% annually, compared to the national employment growth rate of 0.7% (Source: The National Solar Jobs Census 2011).
Solar career opportunities include installation, production, design, sales, marketing and more. The smart grid offers new career avenues for those in information technologies, software, energy, wireless/telecom, finance, contracting, and consumer products. A CABA research study projects that by 2015, the smart grid will be approaching a $10 billion industry in North America. In 2010 it was worth only $5.6 billion. High-tech training in these clean energy careers is paramount.