Report: Solar Empowers​...Some

A new report by NYMBUS Holdings, commissioned by Groundswell, highlights immediate and measurable steps to close the diversity gap in Washington DC’s solar marketplace to address the underrepresentation of minority and women-owned businesses at every level of the solar supply chain. Prompted by Groundswell’s first-hand experiences in the local solar market, and enabled by Groundswell’s participation as a Citi Foundation Community Progress Maker in Washington DC, the objective of the report is to:

  1. To describe the current levels of minority and woman-owned business participation in the solar sector in the Baltimore, MD and District of Columbia solar markets, and frame the near-term opportunities; and,
  2. To provide recommendations for closing the diversity gap

Solar Empowers...Some

The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Solar Sector In Washington, DC And Baltimore, MD


The solar marketplace has experienced exponential growth on a global, national, and local scale. Nationally, 4 out of 10 electricity generation jobs were solar jobs in 2017 – more new jobs than any other segment of energy industry. [1]

Solar energy’s sustained growth has impacted local economies. In both the District of Columbia and Baltimore, solar developers, financiers, and solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firms are shaping a market that is rich with innovation and profitability. In the District alone, solar capacity grew from a negligible base in 2009 to 62MW by the end of 2018, representing an investment of about $160 million to date. [2] DC’s solar capacity is expected to increase to 164MW by 2023. Based on expected installation costs and capacity projects, the period 2018-2023 could see an additional $300 million in solar investments in DC. [3]

While the City of Baltimore’s solar capacity is less robust than DC’s, the State of Maryland’s solar market, already more than 1 GW in Q3, 2018 [4], is projected to grow by 974 MW by 2023, according to the Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDVSEIA), representing an estimated $ 2.4 billion in solar infrastructure [5]. That’s an estimated $2.73B in projected new solar infrastructure – which is great news for local solar companies.

Critically, however, minority and woman-owned businesses are grossly underrepresented at every level of the solar supply chain. As a result, the solar industry and its wealth-building economic expansion in the District of Columbia and in Baltimore is not fulfilling its potential to drive equitable economic development. In fact, the level of diversity in the local solar value chain is sparse even compared to solar industry diversity in other states and to the under representation of minority and woman-owned businesses in other sectors. [6]



[1] 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Futures Initiative, May 2018 (release Feb. 4, 2018); p. 38 

[2] Wood Mackenzie, Limited/SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight®, Solar Energy Industry Association with GTM Research (now known as Wood Mackenzie). District of Columbia-specific data is cited from the Solar Energy Industry Association state policy. Data from this report is current through Q3, 2018.

[3] Ibid., Full report, p. 9

[4] Solar Energy Industries Association, state profiles, Maryland

[5] MDVSEIA, as drawn from Solar Energy Industries Association, National Solar Database, data downloaded 11/14/2018

[6] 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study, The Solar Foundation. Appendix, p.38