Green Energy Jobs An Illusion
By: Fred Johnson; Columnist
President Obama has set a goal of generating 25 percent of our energy from renewable sources such as windmills and solar panels. He predicts that 5 million “green jobs” will be created and during recent graduation exercises he encouraged graduating seniors to pass up corporate jobs and seek employment with non-profits and green energy companies.
Obama has praised Spain as a global leader in renewable energy generation and for creating green jobs. Spain currently generates about 30 percent of their energy from windmills or solar panels.
Their utility companies pay up to 200 percent of the market rate for wind power and 700 percent for solar power.
These higher costs are passed on to electricity users. Spain’s households pay 50 percent more for electricity than U.S. households. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, recently completed the first comprehensive review of the long-term effects of Spain’s renewable energy policy on jobs and the economy.
Some of the surprising findings of the study are:
• The premium paid for renewable power in Spain translates into $774,000 for each “green job” created since 2000.
• The programs creating green energy jobs resulted in the destruction of 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy for every green job created.
• Most of the jobs created were for engineering and construction of plants while only about 10 percent were for the more permanent level of operation and maintenance.
• The high cost of electricity in Spain (due to subsidies paid for green energy) tends to drive many companies and industries away from Spain. Those lost jobs were not included in the study.
Spain’s renewable energy industry was built on the promise of creating millions of high paying jobs while reducing carbon emissions. The renewable energy policies failed on both accounts.
Jobs have been lost due to high energy costs and Spain’s CO2 emissions have increased 50 percent since 2002.
The unemployment rate in Spain is now 17 percent and is predicted to hit 19 percent this year. Instead of creating 5 million jobs, Spain has 5 million unemployed.
Printed in the June 11, 2009 Edition.