Blowing in the Wind, a look at green jobs

President Obama has touted production of “green” jobs by promoting alternative energy sources to produce electricity, especially wind energy. He has particularly pointed to the experience in Spain and Denmark as examples of what could be done in the U.S.

However, the experience in those countries shows that all is not well.

A research team from Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University produced a detailed, well-sourced paper: “Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources ,” which shows that the “green jobs” program was an economic failure.

See: http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf

This study found that for every subsidized green job created, 2.2 jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy. “The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 (Euros) to create each ‘green job’, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.” “… the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy,” and that “each ‘green’ megawatt installed [including solar jobs] destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy.” The study also estimates that between subsidies, and higher production costs, Spaniards would have to pay 31% higher electricity prices to repay the incurred debt.

In Denmark, they produce 19% of their electricity from wind power, but to produce that 19% takes 75% of all jobs in the energy sector. A study from Denmark (http://tinyurl.com/mdfsju ) notes “that the effect of the government subsidy [to the wind industry] has been to shift employment from more productive employment in other sectors to less productive employment in the wind industry. As a consequence, Danish GDP is approximately 1.8 billion DKK ($270 million) lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.” This study estimates that the per job subsidy for the wind industry was $90,000 to $140,000 US.

The Danish Economic Council concludes: “The wind power expansion in the 1990’s is an example of a policy that was unprofitable from society’s point of view, even taking the economic advantages that the wind business enjoyed into consideration. ” As a result, the energy sector underperformed by 13% when considered on a value-added basis compared to other industries.

If the Obama administration really wants to create jobs, perhaps they should rethink their energy policy.

4 comments

  1. Update to this post:
    Emails recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Competitive Enterprise Institute show how political influence and lobbyists are shaping Obama administration policy and public relations. The emails show that the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinated their response to the Spanish report on “green jobs” with wind industry lobbyists and the Center for American Progress (the progressive think tank founded by John Podesta and funded by George Soros).
    http://tinyurl.com/ylql4o2

  2. While countries that have invested in renewable energy have suffered from job loss, so has the rest of the world amidst this recession. Opponents to investing in the wind industry lack the foresight and courage America needs in order to grow less dependent on foreign nations for fossil fuels. We need a comprehensive climate bill that improves upon the strategies used by other nations to transition into a clean energy economy. But the longer Congress waits, the more we fall behind and the emptier our pockets become at the hands of foreign oil. If our nation’s high unemployment rate indicates anything, it’s that we need a new plan to increase opportunities for jobs. Let’s rely on hardworking Americans to meet our energy needs through a climate bill that drives up demand for green jobs and makes us energy independent. 

    1. Wind power does not make us less dependent on fossils fuels.  Because wind is intermittant, all wind stations require some kind of backup to produce power when the wind isn’t blowing.  That backup is usually fossil fuel fired plants.   The only practical way to become energy self-sufficient is to make more use of our domestic resources, but the Obama administration has put many road blocks in the way of that path. 

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