About the Industry

Solar power offers a cleaner, more prosperous future, and it is being built across the United States by women and men on rooftops — and in laboratories, boardrooms and farm fields; in classrooms, courtrooms and utility control rooms.

Manufacturing is about making things. But it’s also about dreaming them up, figuring out how to make them stronger and smarter and faster, and then setting them loose in a world hungry for clean energy.

Solar energy manufacturing is about producing components: panels, racks, inverters. Production requires research -- basic science, fundamental and applied engineering. Then development -- conceptual design, feasibility analysis, prototype testing. And throughout all of this -- quality monitoring, process improvement, innovation. Finally: a production line.

System design is about how things work. It means taking the manufactured components and figuring out how to put them all together to efficiently generate power and safely connect to systems that store, transmit, and distribute it.

Solar energy systems design involves selecting, sizing, and configuring photovoltaic or thermal components into a working system that meets prescribed performance requirements, while balancing demands of cost and schedule. It includes engineering and economic analysis; testing and evaluation; and specification of required design modifications.

Project Development is about getting systems up and running — financially, legally, commercially. From massive utility-scale solar to modest residential projects, this means getting people to buy and install clean energy, figuring out the best places and ways to do that, and meeting all the regulations for safety and quality in the process. And, of course, coordinating all of this.

In solar energy, project development includes things like sales and marketing, procurement and contracting, and plan review and permitting. The goal is to ensure system compliance with required codes and standards. Inspections ensure that component and system installation meet codes and standards.

Installation and Operations is about building and running things. It is about construction and engineering and logistics. It is the work in the field.

In solar energy, this means the actual work of preparing sites and installing photovoltaic or thermal systems, as well as the operation and maintenance of those systems. It includes not only putting panels on roofs — the most familiar element of solar work — but teaching people how to do this safely and well; managing large and small construction projects; and monitoring and adjusting systems to optimize performance.