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Carter Confusion #2: Green Jobs

Posted on 24 May 2011 by dana1981

In his recent Gish Gallop article arguing against implementation of a carbon tax in Australia, marine geologist Bob Carter repeated a fairly widespread myth that investing in renewable energy kills jobs, based on a flawed Spanish study:

"It has been shown that in Spain, 2.2 conventional jobs are destroyed for every new job created in the alternative energy industry"

The study to which Carter undoubtedly references was authored by Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, who happens to be the founder of one libertarian think tank and a fellow of a second, which in recent years received funding from Exxon Mobil.  But of course despite this potential conflict of interest, we will evaluate the study's claims on their own merits (or more accurately as we will see, the lack thereof).

Underestimating Green Job Creation

One key flaw in the Calzada study is in its estimate of green job creation through renewable energy projects.  Obviously when evaluating the net effect on Spanish employment, this is a key figure to get right.  According to Calzada (page 25),

"Since 2000, the renewable subsidies have created less than 50,200 jobs."

However, his reference for this figure is unclear.  Calzada cites an Instituto Sindical de Trabajo, Ambiente y Salud (ISTAS) study for the breakdown of those jobs (percentage of construction, maintenance, administration, etc.), but not for the 50,200 job claim itself.  The number seems to stem from estimated predictions  made in 2003 of what the renewable energy job creation would turn out to be, rather than recent estimates of what the numbers did turn out to be.

In reality, as noted by a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study, the ISTAS actually estimates that 188,000 green jobs have been created in Spain, the majority since 2000.  Getting this figure so wrong invalidates Calzada's conclusions by itself.

Falling Unemployment in Navarre

Navarre is a region in Spain which has invested heavily in renewable energy, currently obtaining 65% of its energy from renewable sources including 993 megawatts (MW) of wind and almost 100 MW of solar photovoltaic power.  So if Calzada's argument is correct and investing in renewable energy kills jobs, we would expect to see high unemployment in this region.

The Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre, José María Roig Aldasoro, wrote a letter in response to Calzada's study, in which he noted:

"In Navarre, the development of renewable energies, and above all wind energy, has created wealth, employment and technological development, and I can assert that this can be achieved in any other region or country. 

Our region’s GDP is among the three highest in Spain, participation by the industrial sector is 12 points higher than the entire country’s, and for many years Navarre has had unemployment rates inferior to Spain’s. Before the beginning of the current world crisis our region enjoyed full employment. Now, after the strong economic and employment crisis that affects Spain in particular, Navarre maintains itself as the Spanish region with the least unemployment."

Aldasoro went on to note that in 1994, when the first wind farm was erected in Navarre, unemployment in the region was at 12.8%.  As more and more renewable energy was installed and worker training centers were opened, the unemployment rate consistently dropped, reaching a level of under 5% in 2007.  Navarre provides a real-world example which is hard to jive with Calzada's claims of job destruction.

Cherrypicking

Another letter was published in response to the Calzada report by Jesús Caldera, the vice president of the IDEAS Foundation and former minister for public works, and Carlos Mulas-Granados, the executive director of the IDEAS Foundation and former economic advisor to Prime Minister Zapatero.  Caldera and Mulas-Granados note that the Calzada report suffers from a common tactic which Skeptical Science readers will recognize: cherrypicking.

"Professor Calzada tries to find a long-term trend, but only cites employment data for the last year during Spain’s serious recession. He argues that solar energy has destroyed 15,000 jobs in the last year, but neglects to cite official figures showing an increase in this job sector of about 500% in the preceding three years. The loss he refers to is thus nothing more than a minor downturn in an economy that is troubled by the recent economic crisis....This is a report which fails to meet even the minimum standards of academic integrity. But worst of all, Professor Calzada’s report ignores – or hides - the positive figures in net employment creation of other renewable energy sectors, such as windmills, where Spain has truly become a world leader."

Faulty Theory

The Calzada report explains the theory behind its faulty numbers on page 37:

"the resources used to create “green jobs” must be obtained from elsewhere in the economy. Therefore, this type of policy tends to create not just a crowding-out effect but also a net destruction of capital insofar as the investment necessary must be subsidized to a great extent and this is carried out by absorbing or destroying capital from the rest of the economy.

The money spent by the government cannot, once committed to “green jobs”, be consumed or invested by private parties and therefore the jobs that would depend on such consumption and investment will disappear or not be created."

In short, Calzada argues that government investment "crowds out" private investment, which he claims is more efficient at job creation, and thus any public investment in renewable energy must necessarily result in job destruction.  In reality, there are only a few circumstances in which this "crowding out" argument holds true; generally when the economy's resources are being fully utilized, which is rarely the case.  It's certainly not true in today's stagnant economic conditions, when private investment and growth is low.  Under these conditions, public investment provide jobs to the unemployed without "crowding out" private investment.  The study also fails to take infrastructure improvements into account, which improves private-sector performance by raising average productivity.

Flawed Methodology

A white paper from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) describes the many fundamental flaws in the Calzada paper methodologies, summarizing the study as follows:

"The analysis by the authors from King Juan Carlos University represents a significant divergence from traditional methodologies used to estimate employment impacts from renewable energy. In fact, the methodology does not reflect an employment impact analysis. Accordingly, the primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work."

The NREL paper also provides a list of recent studies in Europe as a whole (including Spain) and Germany in particular have found that public investment in renewable energy development results in a net positive impact on employment.

"recent research has found that it is only when conventional energy prices are forecast to be very low that net employment impacts from [renewable energy] investments are negative."

Renewable Energy Creates More Jobs than Fossil Fuels

Calzada's argument is also directly contradicted by reality, because renewable energy investment and development tends to create more jobs than fossil fuel energy because a larger share of renewable energy expenditures go to manufacturing equipment, installation, and maintenance, all of which are typically more labor-intensive than extracting and transporting fossil fuels.

Indeed a 2004 UC Berkeley study concluded:

"Across a broad range of scenarios, the renewable energy sector generates more jobs than the fossil fuel-based energy sector per unit of energy delivered (i.e., per average megawatt)."

The study found that implementing a Renewable Portfolio Standard and investing in various types of renewable energy would create approximately twice as many jobs in the USA by 2020 as investing in coal and natural gas.

Similarly, a 2001 Renewable Energy Policy Project report found that wind and solar photovoltaic investments lead to at least 40% more jobs per dollar than coal.

Calzada and Carter are Wrong

As shown above, the Calzada paper is flawed in almost every conceivable way: it relies on incorrect numbers, cherrypicked dates, faulty theory, flawed methodology, and is disproven by real-world examples.  The study has been widely discredited and debunked since shortly after it was published in early 2009, and yet Carter continues to reference it more than two years later.  Carter is doing the Australian public a disservice by propagating this fundamentally-flawed and long-debunked myth.

NOTE: This post has also been adapted into the rebuttal to the myth "Renewable energy investment kills jobs"

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Comments

Comments 1 to 33:

  1. Of course the subject of creating jobs is at cross purposes in the world of free market 'capitalism' politics. On the one hand a typical ideologist has moral views in that they want to do their best to create jobs, on the other hand in order to increase turnover/profits etc. humans are an expensive 'resource'. The two do not work together, which is why you have crashes and booms.
    It isn't much better in the world of socialism, where a lack of realism and an obsession with protecting jobs hinders change and assumes everyone can consume vast amounts of resources for the sake of social justice.

    Enter the world of genuine green politics, where there are no guarantees of jobs and no guarantee of increasing wealth.
    It's realism, facts and a dumping of egos.
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  2. So let G = the number of green jobs.
    Let C = the number of carbon jobs.

    If we replaced all carbon jobs with green jobs,
    and they were equivalent, then

    G = C

    This would mean no net increase in jobs.

    Say that G > C

    Since employee costs are typically the highest cost of business, this would mean that green energy would cost more.

    Sat that G < C

    then green energy would be more economical, thanks to lower employment costs, but probably not a big jobs benefit ( similar to the ongoing automation and computerization of our economies)
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    Response:

    [dana1981] No.  You're ignoring all non-labor costs.  As noted in the article, fossil fuels have higher transportation costs, just as one example.

  3. I should change my moniker. It generates an immediate negative response. Consider me questioning rather than skeptic/denier.

    I have issues with the numbers quoted from the UNEP study. When I read the study, it lists the number of jobs existing in 2007, not necessarily created in the past 7 years. Also, the number of direct jobs is 89,000. There are 99,000 indirect jobs, and who knows what that means.
    This is an example of shoddy reporting/use of statistics.

    I suspect that Calzada has a similar bias the other way in the numbers he quotes, and for all we know, may just make them up.

    However, it is always important to remember our own personal bias when quoting statistics. I believe this report was incorrectly used.
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    Response:

    [dana1981] My mistake (not the UNEP's), thanks for catching that.  I've updated the post and rebuttal accordingly.

  4. Am I reading this correctly? That renewable energy has higher labor costs per unit of energy than coal or gas?
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    Response:

    [dana1981] Possibly, depending on the costs per job.  But renewable energy is lower cost on other fronts (i.e. fuel and transportation)

  5. Eric the Red wrote: "That renewable energy has higher labor costs per unit of energy than coal or gas?"

    In the short term renewable energy creates more jobs than coal or gas. This seems self evident given the relative amounts of construction required. That doesn't necessarily translate to higher labor costs as not all workers are paid the same wage. For instance, dangerous coal mining probably pays better than digging post holes for solar panels. I don't think the article above provides enough information to determine overall labor costs.

    It is also noteworthy that renewable energy doesn't have many costs other than labor. That is, you don't have to pay for wind and sunshine like you do coal, oil, and gas. Ergo, comparing only construction costs or even just labor costs could be very misleading.
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  6. It is inevitable that jobs will be lost within the carbon sector only to be offset by job increases in alternative energy technologies.

    The catalyst will be rising costs due to growing demand and shrinking resource within the carbon sector.

    Once it becomes more economically feasible to invest in alternative sources of energy there will be a period in which transitioning from old technologies to new technologies will likely produce a temporary spike in unemployment rates as workers will need to transition as well and will likely entail learning all new skills before re-entering the job market.

    However once this period of transitioning is complete there is potential for substantial growth within the alternative energy sector (not just in construction projects, but trained technicians to maintain the systems) as it scales quite well to suit a multitude of needs (right down to micro, or even nano scale). Needs that could only be met with large scale offerings in a carbon based economy. And substantial growth brings jobs, and wealth, and most of all -- energy security (think outside the obvious).
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  7. Ron@6 "Once it becomes more economically feasible to invest in alternative sources of energy there will be a period in which transitioning from old technologies to new technologies..."

    But fossil fuel based technology is 'un-naturally' cheap in historical terms, we are effectively in a very short 'blip' in history where energy has been held at artificially low levels, by exploiting 'solar energy' stored millions of years ago.
    The historical normal 'price' for energy should be a lot higher, the question is whether humanity can see through the artificial state we are in now and start excepting the fact that energy prices should be higher in order to survive.
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  8. Allow me to play the contrarian here. I think that the green jobs argument is a distraction and may even be counterproductive. It’s useful for reminding opponents of any investment in renewable energy that green jobs will be created that will offset the loss of black jobs in the coal or oil industries. But we are not trying to reduce CO2 emissions because we want to move employment from one sector to another, or even because we want to stimulate economic growth. This will sound radical to some people here but I would argue that the fewer green jobs are ultimately necessary, the better will be our chances of mitigating climate change. Let me try to explain why.

    Imagine that we could, through more efficient business practices and better design, reduce the cost of building wind turbines and reduce the frequency of breakdown and required maintenance. This would mean that, per turbine, we could employ fewer workers. Imagine also, that a technological breakthrough allowed us to build wind turbines that were twice as efficient for the same cost. This would mean that for a given number of renewable kilowatts, we could use, perhaps half the labor. Surely, we should welcome, even encourage, such progress, even though it would reduce the number of green jobs created.

    Our motivation for moving to renewables is not, after all, because we want to grow the economy but because we need to put the brakes on our atmospheric CO2 emissions. Achieving this will have costs. For example, the Stern Review estimates that stabilizing CO2e at 500-550ppm by 2050 will have annual costs of 1% of GDP, “a level that is significant but manageable”. Of course, the benefits we and our descendants will accrue from incurring these costs lie elsewhere and stretch out into the far future.

    Every job, green or black, ultimately has to be paid for, either by consumers or taxpayers. By arguing that moving to renewable energy will necessarily generate many new net jobs, we are, in effect, conceding that the costs of decarbonizing the economy will be unavoidably high.

    I recommend Paul Krugman’s long essay on Building a Green Economy ; I agree with almost every word in it. He doesn’t mention green jobs even once
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  9. Andy S, I believe the relevant quote from the post is

    "Similarly, a 2001 Renewable Energy Policy Project report found that wind and solar photovoltaic investments lead to at least 40% more jobs per dollar than coal."


    It is certainly desirable, though probably not possible, that we should reduce the cost of electricity by switching to green options. All else being equal, however, if costs are identical and green power results in 40% greater employment for a given cost, then green power is preferable on that ground alone.
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  10. Tom C

    It may well be the case that coal is less labor intensive than renewables but the kind of analysis is fraught with difficult assumptions about what is included in the investments and how the jobs are counted. Economies of scale and maturity of technology are very different between established big industries like coal and emerging industries like PV and wind making any comparison very difficult. And I would prefer not just to rely on one study from an advocacy group like REPP, especially in a report that is nearly 10 years old.

    My point is, costs aside, that I would be for renewables over coal regardless of which means of production of energy was the more labor intensive.
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  11. Quick nitpick:

    The section "Falling Unemployment in Navarre" doesn't really support your thesis. That the employment in Navarre has outperformed the rest of Spain has more to do with the greater level of investment sent there (at the expense of other places in Spain?) rather than the type of investment.

    If the green investment was more homogeneous throughout Spain and nationwide employment performed better than a comparable country, then that would be a better supporting argument.

    Otherwise great work, I'd wondered about the veracity of this often quoted denialist report a while back too.
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  12. Re my point about Navarre above.

    An better comparison would be against another state within Spain that has attracted a similar investment per capita ratio

    Finding an EU country to compare apples with apples is just too difficult.
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  13. macoles - fair enough, the same thought occurred to me. But I thought it was an example worth mentioning nonetheless.
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  14. Re: coal and labour requirements.

    Coal today maybe lower in labour costs, but that is due to over 100 years of technology development and improvements in engineering/science. Modern renewable energy technology is about half that age. Indeed, most of the developments that have made renewable energy practical have occurred in the last 10 to 20 years. Renewable energy has a lot more technology innovations to go and that includes cuts in labour which like coal and any other industry will be a strong driving force for innovation and working practices.
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  15. Macoles @ 11

    I see what you are saying there but I disagree with part of your conclusion. The Álvarez "study" is trying to argue that investment in renewables causes net job losses, but as you point out the investment in the Navarre region helped lead to lower unemployment. So this does help rebut Álvarez claims.
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  16. #2: I don't see that the 'jobs created' figure should always be directly proportional to cost.

    Market coal prices are generally cheaper than, say, wind (especially once you include backup or storage). So going wind likely adds to the cost of energy (and also labour use I suspect)

    Higher energy costs can impact other sectors and it's not necessarily linear. Maybe the higher cost of doing industry means other companies shut down.

    But on the other hand, coal power plants cause damage to people's health and the environment. In some studies a very large amount and this could translate to a significant employment effect (thousands of people unable to work properly because of health problems, say)

    So I suspect it's not just as simple as cost = some constant x labour use and then relating direct labour changes to cost.
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  17. Creating jobs is always going to be a short term vote winning issue and I don't know of any period in history where there has been stability in jobs for longer than a decade or a few decades. That is really short termism in the grand scale of things but is a plus point in votes if you can claim jobs are going to go up for a few years.

    Really jobs shouldn't be an issue, we all have to work and do our thing for the community in order to deserve a roof, heat and food. Whether renewables or fossil fuels are involved isn't important regarding basic duties and work.
    People are generally resourceful over long time scales, so despite short term losses in employment, always find other work to occupy themselves given the right positive attitude and more importantly education.

    Hence the real issue is climate and the environment, what impact renewables or fossil fuels have on that. Clearly renewables are designed to environmentally sustainable as much as is possible and are being improved continuously.
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  18. I agree with Paul. Employment may rise as construction commences (per CB above), but is really a non-issue in the green scheme of things.
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  19. I disagree about jobs being a non-issue, because you have to get public support to make renewable energy investments happen on large scales. If the public thinks investments in these projects kills jobs, they will get much less support. If people realize it will modestly increase employment, they'll be much more likely to support it.

    If it were a non-issue, then guys like Carter wouldn't make this (wrong) argument to begin with.
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  20. Yeah Dana, but that was the point I was making in previous comments, the jobs issue is a political one that satisfies the established political ideologies (right and left).
    The fact is, politicians are afraid of discussing anything outside the political ideologies that have established themselves during the industrial (fossil fueled) revolution.

    Bizarrely there is a crazy notion that without these ideologies, we will go backwards in thinking rather than develop something new.
    Yet before the industrial revolution, modern capitalism and communism didn't exist, you had other modes of governance and living. What the die hards need to understand (both left and right) is that a green revolution, will invoke political changes as well. The technology and the needs of communities will mould new ideologies or transform existing ones.
    That is already happening, it is inevitable IMO as climate change and environmental destruction continue.
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  21. Actually, I have to disagree with the "Wind is more expensive than coal" argument. Looking at figures from 2007, generation costs of On-shore wind were 5-8 cents/kw-h, whereas coal is around 6c/kw-h. Doesn't seem like a *huge* difference to me-at least not big enough to show up clearly on someone's electricity bill.
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  22. Good post, Dana.

    This study was also widely debunked when it first appeared:

    * Gabriel Calzada: A study by a Spanish economist showing that as many as 20 jobs are lost for every “green job” created, has been criticized by the Spanish government as being “simplistic” and “reductionist” and based on “non-rigorous methodology.” http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-avenue/breaking-down-spain%E2%80%99s-green-jobs-spending

    * Spanish government debunks green jobs study cited by GOP. http://thephoenixsun.com/archives/4133

    * Debunking The Study by Gabriel Calzada on The Dire Result of Green Jobs Creation in Spain. http://greeneconomypost.com/debunk-spanish-study-green-jobs-1582.htm

    It's a good example of the anti-renewable propaganda and lies that is constantly being pushed out to confuse the public.
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  23. Dana@19.

    To be clear, I agree that arguments like Calzada's and Carter's need to be rebutted. Inactivists are all too quick to exaggerate the costs and to neglect to mention the economic benefits of any move to renewables.

    Where I disagree with you is in the section "Renewable Energy Creates More Jobs than Fossil Fuels". I think that such claims are arguable and may well be overstated, especially when they are put forward by a renewable energy advocacy group making difficult apples-oranges comparisons. If we exaggerate the positive secondary effects of a needed policy, we risk making those into the main area of contention with contrarians. Basically, I acknowledge the need to play defense on this subject, but we should be careful not to overreach with the offensive game.

    Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic, but I don't believe that there are many thousand-dollar bills lying on the energy sidewalk just waiting to be picked up. Any progress toward decarbonizing our energy system is going to be disruptive and costly, and it will require government intervention. To be sure, there will be short-term economic winners as well as losers but this isn't about the short-term.
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  24. Andy "...I don't believe that there are many thousand-dollar bills lying on the energy sidewalk just waiting to be picked up."

    Maybe in relation to power generation. But there are a goodly number of any denomination bills lying around for investment in nega-watts.

    There's an almighty amount of work to be done - and money to be made/spent - by DIYers sealing gaps in their houses through to tradespeople upgrading buildings of all kinds and on to engineering and architecture professionals retrofitting large structures as well as modifying projects already on the drawing board.
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  25. I simply don't agree with your pessimistic appraisal Andy. Take Germany as a case in point-using primarily what would already be considered "outdated" renewable energy technology (from c2000), they've managed to boost the total amount of electricity supplied from *non-hydro* Renewable Energy sources from about 4% to almost 16%-in the space of only 10 years. Yet their GDP & employment rates don't seem to have been negatively impacted. Now to put this into an Australian perspective, Germany supplied 105TWh of electricity per year from non-Hydro based renewable energy. Australia's current electricity demand is 255TWh per annum. So, using an area as small as less than 10% of the total area of Germany, Australia could supply nearly 50% of its total electricity needs from non-hydro based renewable energy, & reduce its total CO2 emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes per annum. Of course, if we could also reduce our annual per-capita electricity use so that its on-par with that of Germany (about 7,000kw-h per person, per year), then that same small amount of land could supply around 70% of our annual electricity demand. Of course, as I said above, the technology has advanced quite a long way since Germany started this process, especially in the area of renewable energy *storage*, so I've little doubt that Australia could supply the vast majority of *all* its electricity needs from renewable energy sources-with precious little disruption to the economy (with the exception of a temporary disruption caused by the shift away from the current dominance of our fossil fuel/primary industry focus to a greater emphasis on secondary industries-like Manufacturing).
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  26. Adelady:

    I agree that energy conservation measures in buildings often do represent easy money returns. However, we do have to ask why homeowners are not all rushing to do these easy things. One problem may be that many people do a quick mental calculation that goes like "If I spend $1000 dollars and save only $50 per year on my heating bills, then it will take me 20 years to get my money back. Forget it, instead I'll leave my money in a savings account where it's earning 2% interest." To help overcome this, I think we need incentives/subsidies to encourage people to do this work and higher energy prices, too. Also, we need somehow to be able to capture the added value of energy-saving upgrades in housing price appraisals, perhaps with some kind of mandatory energy efficiency audit on all resales.

    In short, a few thousand-dollar bills are indeed lying there ready to be picked up in exchange for negawatts but we still need to prod people to do it.
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  27. Marcus:
    I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with the attempt to promote renewable energy in Germany but from what I have read, it seems to support the pessimistic rather than optimistic case for renewables. For example, this is the abstract of a review paper:

    The allure of an environmentally benign, abundant, and cost-eff ective energy source has led an increasing number of industrialized countries to back public financing of
    renewable energies. Germany’s experience with renewable energy promotion is often cited as a model to be replicated elsewhere, being based on a combination of farreaching energy and environmental laws that stretch back nearly two decades. This paper critically reviews the current centerpiece of this eff ort, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), focusing on its costs and the associated implications for job creation and climate protection. We argue that German renewable energy policy, and in particular the adopted feed-in tariff scheme, has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio. To the contrary, the government’s support mechanisms have in many respects subverted these incentives, resulting in massive expenditures that show little long-term promise for stimulating the economy, protecting the environment, or increasing energy security.


    I was pointed to this paper by an article by George Monbiot--hardly a shill for business-as-usual--.Solar PV has failed in Germany and it will fail in the UK He wrote:

    In principle, tens of thousands of jobs have been created in the German PV industry, but this is gross jobs, not net jobs: had the money been used for other purposes, it could have employed far more people. The paper estimates that the subsidy for every solar PV job in Germany is €175,000: in other words the subsidy is far higher than the money the workers are likely to earn. This is a wildly perverse outcome. Moreover, most of these people are medium or highly skilled workers, who are in short supply there. They have simply been drawn out of other industries.

    I wish it were not so. Certainly, lucky countries like Australia will fare far better with solar energy, but those of us who live closer to the poles are going to have to try much harder. Any claims we make that renewable energy subsidies will be a boon for jobs will--and should--be scrutinized carefully.
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  28. Marcus #25,

    I don't know where you are getting your figures for Germany from, but according the IEA Monthly Electricity Statistics Report in 2010 Germany produced 45,010 GWh from wind, solar, geothermal and other, of a total production of 586,486 GWh which is about 7.7%.

    IEA Monthly Electricity Statistics
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  29. Quokka, I got my figures from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Germany

    According to this, in 2009 they were getting around 94,000GWh of electricity from renewable energy, & this has apparently risen to over 100,000GWh in 2010.
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  30. Andy S. I am familiar with this paper, & I find its arguments to be fundamentally flawed. That said, there are amendments to the Act which are going to be made, such as adding greater incentives for energy efficiency measures & phasing out feed-in tariffs for existing power sources, in order to encourage the development of new technologies. Like most Acts of Parliament, the EEG was far from perfect-especially as it was one of the first such Acts ever introduced-but this is why it is being subjected to new scrutiny & amendment-its an *organic* process. This fact, & how ultimately successful Germany's adoption of renewable energy has been, does give me grounds for optimism.
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  31. Marcus #29

    As I understand, Germany has about 27GWe of installed wind and 18 GWe of installed PV with capacity factors of around 17 % and 12% respectively. Doing the sums, that's a yearly output of 40,208 GWh for wind and 18,921 GWh for PV. Allowing for some "slop" in capacity factors, down time for maintenance and the rapid rollout of PV in 2010 (18GWe not available all year)this would seem to support the IEA figure of 45,010 GWh.

    Someone is pulling someones leg, and my money is on Wikipedia.
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  32. Speaking of costs, I notice people are adding transport and fuel costs to those paid for coal produced power. Surely the cost of power from both government owned and privately owned genrating plants already includes thes components before sending out their bills to consumers. If the cost of building solar and wind power generators and their continuing operation were so competitive, why would we need a carbon tax to make the coal fired producers convert to solar etc? You do need to be care as to how you presentthese arguments I believe.
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  33. jonicol - as long as we're talking about costs, there are a whole lot of externalities not accounted for in the market price of coal power. It's actually an exceptionally expensive energy source - moreso than almost every source of renewable energy. But as long as the electricity bill is low, people tend to ignore those external costs.

    But if we're just talking jobs, renewable energy tends to beat out fossil fuels on that front too. So taking all costs into consideration, it's both cheaper and positive for employment.
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