The growth of the solar industry may soon face the reality of not having enough skilled workers to satisfy demand, suggests a recent report by The Solar Foundation and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Despite a dragging economy overall, installed solar capacity has increased dramatically in the past few years. In 2011 alone, the cumulative installed solar capacity in the United States nearly doubled from 2,095 MW to 3,950 MW. Should the industry continue along the base-line forecast, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts that 75% of the U.S. solar market will attain grid-parity by 2015. This could unlock even higher levels of adoption and create a real distance between the demand and supply of solar installation professionals.
The report suggests that this growth has been fueled by more than just government incentives; “evidence shows that a qualified, trained, and certified workforce performs installations that result in fewer problems at the time of inspection and, as such, have a direct impact on lowering costs for project developers, consumers, and inspection authorities.” Furthermore, as the industry matures, labor productivity increases and fewer employees are required per megawatt of equipment production or system installation, lowering the price further.