Solar Power International 2011 Highlights Solar’s USA Ascent

If the buzz emanating from the Solar Power International 2011 (SPI 2011) expo is anything to go by, the American solar power industry has become a champion of the U.S. economy, despite a challenging political climate for the sector.
Presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), the event runs from October 17-20 at the Dallas Convention Centre in Dallas, Texas. The event has drawn an estimated 24,000 solar professionals from 125 countries to showcase the latest and greatest in solar power technology.
With the nation’s attention focused on Dallas and solar energy matters, SPI 2011 provides organisations like SEIA and others with an opportunity to release new data revealing the state of the solar sector in America, including jobs growth and polling figures.
On October 17, The Solar Foundation released its complete National Solar Jobs Census 2011. As Energy Matters reported last month, it shows solar jobs growing at 10 times the rate of general employment in U.S economy, with over 100,000 people currently working in the solar sector. The report predicts solar employment will rise by nearly 25 percent over the next year. 
"The solar industry has grown into a major economic force in the United States,” according to Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation. "We expect even greater growth in the foreseeable future. But policymakers, workforce training providers, and the industry must work together to continue creating good jobs for skilled workers."
The SEIA’s president, Rhone Resch, a keynote speaker at the SPI 2011 conference, has also released national polling figures showing nearly three quarters of Americans believe that the solar hot water industry is good for the economy and will create jobs in the future. 
The SEIA also says according to the independent poll conducted by Gotham Research Group, solar energy is considered the energy source most deserving of U.S. government support.
“This poll confirms what we’ve seen around the country. The solar water heating industry is creating stable, good-paying installation and manufacturing jobs and helping to put our economy back on track,” said Monique Hanis, SEIA spokesperson.