DOE Investing Up to $13.5M to Give Shot in the Arm to Solar Sector

June 21, 2023 by Kennedy Thomason
DOE Investing Up to $13.5M to Give Shot in the Arm to Solar Sector
Researchers including Haley Paterson (left), a data analytics graduate, and Brittany Staie (right), a market research analysis researcher, plant crops in a garden row at the bifacial agrivoltaics array on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) campus. (Photo by Joe DelNero / NREL)

WASHINGTON — The Department of Energy is investing up to $13.5 million in job training partnerships to bolster the solar energy industry in 13 states.

In a press release explaining the initiative, administration officials said the effort is particularly geared toward historically underserved communities.

And it’s all part of the White House’s goal to have the United States relying on a completely clean-energy power grid by 2035.

“The … DOE is working to jump-start solar energy careers, especially in underserved communities, developing the long-term structures needed to deliver these jobs over the next decade,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a written statement.

According to the most recent data gathered by the Energy Department, the solar energy sector currently employs about 330,000 people, and will add between 500,000 and 1,500,000 new jobs by 2035.

The administration’s latest investment in the sector will support as many as a dozen job training initiatives, each of which get an individual award ranging between $725,000 and $1,500,000, depending on the scope of the project.

Nicole Steele, who manages the DOE’s workforce and equitable access program and is a senior adviser for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, says these projects will focus on diversity. 

“DOE designed this program to directly address the need for diversity and inclusion in the solar industry,” Steele said in a written statement.

Regardless of each project’s size, all will work to “recruit, train and retain a diverse workforce,” expand training and certification opportunities in underserved communities, develop apprenticeships and work collaboratively with labor unions.

The investment will fund 12 individual projects. Steele said the projects were chosen to revitalize and modernize the solar energy industry. 

“The selected projects share three key features: They are demand-driven, worker-centered, and equity-focused,” Steele said.

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