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In the pursuit of a sustainable and environmentally favorable future, renewable energy sources have assumed the central role. In particular, solar energy has emerged as a formidable competitor in the global transition to healthier and more sustainable energy sources.
Using photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert sunlight into electricity, solar energy is extracted from the sun’s beams. This renewable energy source has acquired immense popularity because of its numerous benefits, which include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower electricity costs and its abundance as a virtually infinite energy source.
However, as solar technology continues to develop, the demand for trained and competent professionals in the solar industry is greater than ever. In an interview with EE Times, Solar Bootcamp University CEO Garrett Mendelsohn explores the aspects of this year’s surge in solar energy investment and how this is changing the way people buy and sell solar panels.
The rise of clean energy investment
The American Clean Power Association reports that the solar business is thriving because of $270 billion in capital expenditures in clean energy the previous year. In the same period, 83 utility-scale renewable energy manufacturing facilities (52 solar) were announced, creating approximately 30,000 U.S. jobs.
Manufacturing investments reached $22 billion, including 52 new or expanded U.S. solar manufacturing facilities. Once these manufacturing facilities are operational, solar module production will rise to 62 GW from 7 GW.
Although the solar industry has made significant strides in recent years, it still faces several challenges as it continues to grow and evolve. One of the biggest challenges is the skilled workforce shortage affecting the entire industry, from installation to sales. The demand for skilled professionals in the solar industry, including installers, engineers and maintenance personnel, is growing exponentially.
In hopes to reduce this shortage, Mendelsohn recently launched a new comprehensive training platform—Solar Bootcamp University (or SBU)—to teach people about the solar sales industry and how they can tap into this growing market.
Garrett’s point of view
Garrett is a well-respected professional in the PV industry, renowned for his exceptional sales ability and notable achievements. In addition, he actively participates in the development of SBU.live, the world’s first e-sports platform for solar devotees, thereby solidifying his position as an influential leader in the industry’s rapid and constant evolution.
According to Garrett, the main factors that have contributed to the significant surge in solar energy investment this year are the following:
Post-pandemic recovery: The global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has provided a significant boost to clean energy investment.
Global energy crisis response: The energy crisis, intensified by geopolitical events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has accelerated momentum behind the deployment of clean energy technologies.
Policy support: Enhanced policy support, especially from major economies like the U.S., Europe, China and Japan, has played a pivotal role.
Economic factors: Improved economics due to high and volatile fossil fuel prices have made clean energy—especially solar—more attractive.
The substantial investments in clean energy ($270 billion), including solar manufacturing, mean there’s a clear momentum towards renewable power, especially solar. This influx will likely drive technological advancements, reduce costs and make solar energy more accessible to consumers globally.
Regarding the impact on the domestic and global solar market—particularly in terms of production capacity and competition—produced by the 52 new or expanded solar manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Garrett thinks this is a strategic move to become a major player in the global solar market. This rise in the number of solar manufacturing facilities will likely increase domestic production capacity, reduce reliance on imports, and intensify competition in the global solar market.
Very remarkable is also the projected surge in solar module production to 62 GW from the current 7 GW. Garrett says that the technological advancements or innovations driving this rapid scalability are continuous technological innovations, economies of scale and improved manufacturing processes. However, as production scales, maintaining quality, efficiency and sustainability will be paramount.
Labor shortages affecting the solar industry, from installation to sales, is one of the major challenges highlighted in the ACP report. As Garett states, the labor shortage is a multifaceted challenge. Short-term solutions include offering competitive salaries, benefits and training programs. Long-term strategies might involve partnerships with educational institutions, promoting STEM education and creating awareness about the potential of the solar industry.
This is one of the reasons behind Garrett’s creation of SBU, which aims to educate individuals about the solar sales industry. As Garrett explains, professionals entering the solar sales market should focus on understanding solar technology, market dynamics, regulatory frameworks, customer relationship management and effective communication. Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends will also be crucial.
As the solar industry evolves and investment continues to pour in, business models will likely shift towards service-based offerings, lease agreements and community solar projects. Technology—especially AI-driven tools—and online platforms will play a pivotal role in enhancing customer experience, optimizing operations and driving sales.Evolving policy landscapes, such as tax incentives, rebates and feed-in tariffs, can significantly influence consumer adoption rates. Businesses will likely strategize based on these policies, focusing on regions with favorable regulatory environments.
Beyond solar panels, the transition to clean energy involves different technologies, such as energy storage and grid integration. Regarding the evolution of these complementary technologies, Garrett believes they will progress in tandem with solar energy, ensuring consistent energy supply, optimizing energy consumption and enhancing grid stability.
The solar industry is poised for exponential growth in the coming years. Potential bottlenecks might include supply chain disruptions, regulatory hurdles and technological challenges. However, the overarching trend is positive, driven by a global commitment to sustainability, technological advancements and decreasing solar costs.