A new report shows solar technologies in New Mexico could lead to economic growth and about 6,800 more jobs per year.

The New Mexico Jobs Project: A Guide to Creating Jobs in Advanced Solar Technology was created by the American Jobs Project in partnership with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER). It looks at which targeted investments and policies are necessary to drive economic growth in our state.

“Fluctuating oil and gas revenues and resulting uncertainty in public finances, an overreliance on government jobs and limited success in capitalizing on local talent to develop a vibrant technology sector have contributed to a slow post-recession recovery,” said Jeff Mitchell, director of the UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “New Mexico has a unique opportunity to expand its small manufacturing sector and diversify its economy through advanced solar, putting thousands of people to work and stimulating local economies.”

These new jobs are needed because, since the onset of the last recession, New Mexico has lost one-quarter of its manufacturing jobs. The state ranks No. 49 nationally in manufacturing as a share of total employment, at 3.2 percent. New Mexico faces a growing need for good-paying jobs to address unemployment and a large population of underemployed and low-wage workers.

New Mexico Employment Growth Rates

“New Mexico has already made significant investments to tap into the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy industry through natural gas and wind projects,” said Kate Ringness, director of the American Jobs Project and co-author of the report. “Our research shows that the state can continue to capitalize on this opportunity by becoming a hub for advanced solar technologies.”

“Advanced solar technologies” are solar products that go beyond run-of-the-mill solar panels. For example, flexible perovskite solar cells can be used in glazing to enable colorful, electricity-producing glass buildings. Micro-scale solar cells, or “solar glitter,” can be embedded into flexible, lightweight materials such as fabrics and used for applications from aerospace to emergency response. Thin film solar shingles can replace traditional roofing, offering building owners easier solar installation options.

“This report offers a practical roadmap for expanding advanced solar manufacturing in New Mexico to create good-paying manufacturing jobs in a sector that’s growing worldwide,” Ringness said.

The report provides state-specific strategies designed to take advantage of this economic opportunity and fortify critical assets for industry growth, including the innovation ecosystem, access to capital, workforce development, value chain build-out and local market growth. Recommendations include:

  • Building a comprehensive cluster development strategy that encourages knowledge sharing, asset growth, and high-impact marketing.
  • Establishing an advanced solar center of excellence to catalyze innovation and support entrepreneurship.
  • Creating a technology maturation loan fund to increase the number of innovations that reach commercial development in the state.
  • Appointing a foundation liaison to leverage philanthropic support for essential programs.
  • Increasing opportunities to develop job readiness and industry-related skills to improve youth engagement in education and employment.

 “With demand for advanced solar solutions increasing around the world, thousands of jobs are up for grabs for those who choose to lead,” said Athena Christodoulou, President of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association. “The New Mexico Jobs Project demonstrates how our state can seize this opportunity and offers a pathway for industry growth and collaboration across industry, government and university partners.”

Visit the American Jobs Project website read the report.