If anyone ever doubted that solar energy would be the best option among green energy solutions, it’s definitely time to start reevaluating the future of solar power and the benefits that are certain to result from increased solar energy usage. As the Smithsonian recently reported in an online January 19th article, the solar power industry has grown by about 139,000% in the past decade (yep, you read that number right — 139,000 percent!) and that there are nearly as many jobs in the American solar energy industry — if not more — as there are in the country’s coal mining industry. The best part of this report isn’t that solar panels are becoming more affordable and more popular among both homeowners and business owners — the best part is that there’s still so much room for growth in the solar industry, particularly where jobs are concerned. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal provided around 39% of the country’s energy in 2013, while solar panels provided energy for a mere .2% of the country’s total energy usage. Another study, conducted by the non-profit Solar Foundation, states that the solar energy industry currently provides about 174,000 jobs in the U.S. In comparison to the nation’s coal industry, about 80,000 Americans have been employed as coal miners; combined with the workers who are involved in coal transportation and coal power plants, the coal industry has been a notable supplier of jobs for Americans. Here’s the thing: if solar energy only provides .2% of the country’s energy, then there’s a lot of room for the industry to grow. And if 174,000 people are needed to produce just .2% of national energy needs, imagine how many jobs will be created as solar panels begin providing more energy for homes and businesses across the country. So you see, the solar power industry isn’t just beneficial because it provides energy without producing any harmful effects on the environment, or because solar energy is inexhaustible and will never run out as long as the sun is shining, or even because the amount of sunlight sent down to Earth in one hour could potentially provide enough energy for an entire year. The U.S. has been working hard to create jobs and support its citizens since the economic collapse of 2008 — but the best solution for job creation might just be hidden in a few more solar panels.