Dinner with Dan: Episode 5 – “Solar is taking coal jobs!”

“Uncle Bob” may have legitimate concerns about job losses in coal and legacy power industries. It can be difficult when an industry becomes obsolete due to cost or other reasons, especially when families and communities are impacted. The flip side is that when new industries spring up, the net benefits can be transformational. We don’t want to see anybody out of work, so we’ve got good news for Uncle Bob – solar, wind, and batteries are employing about 10x more jobs than coal today. The reason? Economics. New coal costs about $120/ MWh versus new solar plants at about $60/ MWh – about half the cost of coal, on an unsubsidized basis.

The IRA legislation, which became law a year and a half ago, thoughtfully set aside incentives to motivate developers and power plant owners to build clean energy projects and manufacturing in coal communities. We are seeing tangible results in multiple areas, amplified by the practicality of connecting a clean power project to an electric grid interconnection previously used by a coal power plant to accelerate the project viability.

In addition to project development, clean energy brings factories to communities that desperately need the economic benefits that local supply chain and good paying manufacturing jobs bring. This has been gratifying for us at Nextracker as we have scaled factories with partners across the USA from Pittsburgh to Memphis to Phoenix to Las Vegas and even right here in Silicon Valley. We’re also sourcing clean steel from great American companies like US Steel, Nucor, and Steel Dynamics, supporting more jobs throughout our domestic supply chain.

If you missed our prior “Dinner with Dan” videos with answers for “Uncle Bob”, don’t worry, you can find them all here: https://nextracker.com/shug-speaks/. These myth-busting videos reinforce the reality that: few solar panels in the U.S. come from China, solar is very reliable paired with storage, nuclear is just too expensive, and a solar power plant that covers one-half of 1% of U.S. land area would power the entire country.

Episode 5 on jobs completes our “Dinner with Dan” series. We are getting requests for another “season” in 2024. What Uncle Bob myths are you hearing that you would like us to cover, such as:

  • solar panels are made from exotic materials from overseas
  • solar panels are filling up landfills
  • it takes more energy to make a solar panel than it produces and the same for an EV
  • environmental regulations handicapped oil and gas unfairly against solar and wind power and the list goes on!

Looking forward to your suggestions, and Happy New Year!

Shug