Much of the media coverage and political commentary surrounding the Solyndra bankruptcy story would have us believe that this wasn't a specific set of circumstances impacting one specific firm, but that it somehow implies broad problems in the U.S. solar industry. In reality, as Stephen Lacey of Climate Progress explains, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Solyndra bankruptcy and subsequent layoff of 1,100 workers has given opponents a platform to rail on green jobs as some kind of fantasy — even when the evidence suggests otherwise.
Case in point: There are now 100,237 jobs in the American solar industry, according to preliminary figures released this morning by the Solar Foundation. The organization is currently putting together its second solar jobs census, which will be released next month. The census tracks a diverse range of jobs in solar PV, solar thermal and concentrating solar power.
The Solar Foundation found that between August of 2010 and August of 2011, the solar industry grew by 6.8%, far outpacing the 0.7% growth rate of the overall U.S. economy.
According to figures compiled by the solar census researchers from an Economic Modeling Specialists database, jobs in the fossil fuel electricity-generation sector actually dropped by more than 1,600 over the last year. Meanwhile, the solar industry added more than 6,700 jobs.
In sum, the U.S. solar industry is booming, even as the economy as a whole struggles, and even as the dirty energy industry continues to receive enormous implicit and explicit subsidies from the government, meaning that the competition is not even close to being played on a level playing field. Despite all of that, renewable energy - and solar power specifically - is doing just fine, thank you.