Most Solar Jobs Are Construction Jobs and Most Jobs Are In Hennepin County

Solar energy is often touted as a way to spur jobs growth throughout the entire state of Minnesota, but a recent jobs report from the solar industry shows the vast majority of solar jobs are temporary construction jobs, and most of these jobs are in the metro area, not Greater Minnesota.

Plenty of organizations crow about the solar industry creating jobs, but few people ever ask, “what kind of jobs?” Once you look, you’ll see that 68 percent of the solar jobs in Minnesota were installation/temporary construction jobs.

Now, I want to by crystal clear. I think temporary construction jobs are terrific, if the project being built delivers a product or service more efficiently than other alternatives. This is why I wholeheartedly support the replacement of the Line 3 oil pipeline, because doing so will allow Enbridge to more safely and efficiently transport oil.

Solar power, on the other hand, does not fit this criteria because solar is four times more expensive than electricity generated at existing coal-fired power plants. Therefore, the jobs in the solar sector require four times more inputs for the same level of output. This is called inefficiency, and it is the energy equivalent of the broken window fallacy.

Greater Minnesota is often touted as the recipient of the benefits of solar jobs, but the data show otherwise. The solar industry created 4,602 jobs in 2018. Of these jobs 3,512, or 76 percent were in Hennepin County. So much for this being a boon to the economy of Greater Minnesota.

In the end, Minnesota is just about the worst place to put a solar panel, and this should be obvious given solar companies have said it is too expensive to clear snow off the panels in the winter. Can you imagine a company trying to sell a car in Minnesota with this shortcoming? They’d be laughed out of existence, and solar should be, too.