Happy Earth Day: Solar Panels And Green Construction Among Fastest-Growing Industries

Blog ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

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A report released this month by research group IBISWorld lists "solar panel manufacturing" and "green and sustainable building construction" as being among the top 10 fastest-growing industries in the country. The report joins the body of research showing that the green energy industry is a growing force in both the domestic and global economies.

Despite this evidence, right-wing media have long attacked green energy, claiming that solar power "doesn't work" and that the green energy industry is a "giant money laundering operation."

As the IBISWorld report explains, solar panel manufacturing had "average annual revenue growth of 32.3% from 2002 to 2012," thanks to both "substantial subsidies" from the government and "falling silicon prices":

Over the past decade, the dramatic rise in energy costs and an increasingly vocal, environmentally conscious public have led to the growth of green industries. The Solar Panel Manufacturing industry has been at the forefront of the green industrial movement with average annual revenue growth of 32.3% from 2002 to 2012, including expected growth of 9.4% in 2012. As the federal government looks to reduce the United States' dependency on fossil and other non-renewable fuels, green energy firms have reaped the benefit of substantial subsidies. Without assistance, solar power generation firms would have little chance against entrenched, traditional fuel sources. Moreover, falling silicon prices have allowed US firms to compete with low-cost manufacturers abroad.

The report also notes that the "Green and Sustainable Building Construction industry" has experienced "annualized growth of 28.9%" since 2002.

IBISWorld researchers predicted that both industries will continue to grow over the next five years, projecting that solar panel manufacturing will "continue expanding at an average rate of 8.2% per year" and that green and sustainable construction will grow at an "average annual rate of 22.8%."

Among other studies that have produced similar findings: In 2010, the solar industry was the fastest growing industry in the U.S., according to a study conducted by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. A July 2011 Brookings Institution report found that between 2003 and 2010, green energy industries grew more than twice as much as the national economy overall; solar thermal grew by over four times as much. And last August, the International Energy Agency predicted that solar generators could produce most of the world's power within 50 years.

Yet in spite of reams of evidence to the contrary, right-wing pundits -- including some who claim to be business experts -- have claimed in recent years that green industries are failing. Last year, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said: "We've had subsidies for wind and solar for what, 30 years at least? What have we got for it? Virtually nothing." In February 2011, Fox Business contributor Charles Payne said that "green energy policy" is "going to kill our economy." And a December post on Fox Nation claimed that the "ENTIRE solar industry" was on the verge of collapse.

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