Why is Texas facing a solar installer shortage?

For business

(April 10, 2020)

Texas may soon face a solar installer shortage.

Texas is positioned to be a national leader in solar energy, with more than 4 GW of solar capacity expected to be installed over the next 5 years. But the state’s workforce may not be prepared to meet the new demand for skilled solar workers, leading to a solar installer shortage.

Texas is one of the largest resident solar markets

The Lone Star State is the fourth largest residential solar market in the U.S. In 2020, it is estimated that residential installations in Texas will pass 122 megawatts. One megawatt can power over 200 homes on a hot day in Texas. This increase in solar capacity will help meet the increasing energy demands of residents and businesses.

In addition to power generation, Texas residents and businesses are choosing solar energy for several reasons. Some of the main benefits for homeowners and businesses using solar include:

  • Warranties provided by companies. Manufacturers often provide residents with a 25-year warranty for their solar modules.
  • Environmental benefits. Solar energy provides a sustainable, clean energy alternative to other energy methods that create carbon emissions.
  • Backup power. Customers can choose to add a solar-charged battery backup to provide their homes and businesses with energy in the case of an outage or natural disaster.
  • Lower energy bills. Solar energy protects customers from current and future volatile energy prices.

Opportunities for the Texas workforce

While the new capacity will better equip the state’s electric grid to meet high demand, there is a lack of skilled solar installers to manage the projects.

As unemployment levels rise, this shortage may present an opportunity to jobseekers across Texas. Job openings for solar installers are anticipated to rise 63 percent over the next decade. This rate outpaces the job market significantly, so solar installers will continue to be in shortage for the next few years.

Many solar energy companies accept individuals with a high school diploma and some offer on the job training for willing candidates. The median pay for a solar installer is $20.54/hour which adds up to about $42,680 per year in salary.

Solar installers are generally entry-level positions at solar energy companies. Once hired, a competitive candidate has the opportunity to rise within the ranks and be elected for managerial and executive positions within a company.

A typical solar installer can become an electrician or technician after some experience on the job. Beyond this, installers can become team leaders, project managers, and even project superintendents.

The impact on employers

Solar energy companies face several difficulties attracting and retaining solar installers in their companies. The shortage of solar installers in the U.S. market provides several obstacles for employers, including a lack of publicity.

“We must spread the word that employment in the solar industry is promising, rewarding and does not require a college degree,” wrote Petersen-Dean president Mark Vogel in Solar Power World.

Additionally, employers must compete with rival solar energy companies to retain their staff. Solar installers have an array of options when selecting a company to work for, so factors like work culture, compensation and benefits play important roles in employee retention. The employers with the most attractive packages for the solar installers hitting the market will have the most competitive talent pool in the years to come.

For those interested in learning more about a career in solar installation, check out the requirements needed to become a solar installer here.

 

Dhoof Mohamed writes about energy and IT topics for various clients. His academic interests include solar energy initiatives and the future of sustainable energy. His articles have appeared on SiteProNews, ChooseFlorida and the office of the U.S. Embassy. You can reach him at dhoof@dhoofmohamed.com.

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