With the demand for energy continually rising across the world, renewable energy sources are gaining more and more popularity.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that renewables will be the fastest growing energy source by 2040. The EIA projects that solar, wind, and geothermal production will almost double, increasing by the 97 percent by 2040. For comparison, natural gas is expected to grow by 56 percent within the same time span.

The boom of the solar industry is especially impressive, as The Refrigeration School points out: 143,000 people are currently employed in the American solar industry, which is an increase of more than 50 percent from 2010. With 20 percent, the solar industry is the fastest growing job market in this country. In addition, the total solar capacity in the U.S. has increased over 418 percent since 2010. However, solar energy still only comprises about 1 percent of the U.S.’ energy production.

The solar boom in the U.S. is fueled by government agencies, private corporations, and individual consumer alike. For instance, the Energy Department announced in April 2014 that it would invest $15 million in solar projects across the country. The Defense Department plans to construct a 20-megawatt solar energy facility in Fort Huachuca in Arizona, which would have the capacity to meet 25% of the bases’ electrical demand.

Many large corporations have begun to include solar arrays to meet their electricity needs as well. Apple, once one of tech world’s worst environmental offenders, now aims to power all its facilities entirely by renewable energy. As a matter of fact, its corporate campuses and data centers are already powered at 94 percent renewable. Furthermore, the tech giant owns two 100-acre solar arrays in North Carolina that each produce 84 million kilowatt-hours per year. Other big companies like Google, Walmart and Staples are also integrating solar arrays in their infrastructures to power their facilities (to a certain extent) with solar power.

Individuals are also increasingly turning to solar panels to meet their electrical power needs in their own homes. While solar panels used to be something only wealthier homeowners could afford, they have become much more common in the last few years, now that their prices have significantly dropped. In 2013, California homes reached a total of 1,000 megawatts of capacity through solar panels installed on rooftops. From 2012 to 2013, almost 50% more photovoltaic systems were installed throughout the whole country.

It’s no surprise that solar energy is booming in states with ample sunshine. Overall, California is the undisputed trailblazer of the solar industry. California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Nevada are the states with the most cumulative solar capacity. California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and New Jersey saw the most solar growth in 2013. Lastly, California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York are the top five states with the highest number of solar-related jobs.

While these numbers area already impressive, the solar business is only slated to thrive even more. Those who are interested in working in the solar industry should consider promising and emerging careers such as Solar Installation Helper, Solar Thermal Technician, HVAC Technician with Solar Expertise or Solar Installation Contractor. With the ever-rising demand for energy and the drastically dropping supply of fossil fuels, solar power is our best chance at a secure and sustainable future.