Graph of the Day: Renewables create more jobs/$ than fossils, nuclear | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Renewables create more jobs/$ than fossils, nuclear

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Study finds that renewable energy sources create up to three times more jobs for every $1 invested than coal, gas and nuclear.

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As far as job creation goes, investing in renewable energy is around 300 per cent more effective than investing in fossil fuel or nuclear jobs – at least, that’s what the below infographic tells us. Sourced via Solar Love and CleanTechnica, it was put together by the Political Economy Research Insititute at the University of Massachusetts. Here’s what the Pear Energy team – headed up by Robert Pollin, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst – has to say about it:

“The basic facts are simple. When we invest, say, $1 million in building the green economy, this creates about 17 jobs within the United States. By comparison, if we continue to spend as we do on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, you create only about 5 jobs per $1 million in spending. That is, we create about 12 more jobs for every $1 million in spending — 300 percent more jobs — every time we spend on building the green economy as opposed to maintaining our dependence on dirty and dangerous oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.”

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  1. Scott Bocskay 8 years ago

    While I agree that the above does indeed show that renewables create more jobs than fossil fuels and nuclear energy, building retrofits (and mass transit) get the most bang for your buck!

    But most interestingly is that when retrofit projects are paid for by using finance such as Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs) or Property Assessed Clean Energy finance (PACE finance) in the U.S. that these jobs are created by utilising money that is currently being spent on wasting energy (and other resources).

    That is, without new money, we can create these jobs now – find out how –

    • John Stewart 8 years ago

      The premise of this conversation needs questioning.
      Why do we build energy infrastructure?
      To create direct short-term jobs in its construction?
      Or to provide ourselves with a long-term, clean, affordable, reliable energy supply, which then makes our whole economy more competitive and drives job growth across all sectors?
      Most of us in this conversation are talking like the purpose is the former.
      If that’s our criterion, any labour-intensive option begins to look good. We can pay people to spend their days tearing down houses and breaking up furniture to fuel campfires. Job creation will be tremendous.

      • Ronald Brak 8 years ago

        With most rich nation economies operating at well below normal capacity it is understandable that people are going to be concerned about job creation. With many countries near a liquidity trap there are lots of places where paying people to do anything useful right now would almost certainly be helpful. And one of the most useful things we can do right now is build infrastructure that lets us stop burning fossil fuels. But rather than explaining that clean energy is a vital and low cost investment that more than pays for itself and if done now will help to restore normal employment, we tend to get a lot of poorly defined stuff on job creation instead. I’m not entirely sure why – probably something to do with politics. But then, it is clear from the reaction to the Global Financial Crisis that a lot of people don’t know what a liquidity trap is and what is the textbook approach to avoiding one.

  2. Jonathan Prendergast 8 years ago

    I would like to understand this further. I’ve never been involved in such economic calculations.
    Is it just talking about new build of renewable vs maintenance of fossil fuels?
    Are the jobs ongoing, or just during construction?
    Is it particular to America, and depends on how much is imported? For example, a gas engine may be imported from Europe, so creates less American jobs. Or is it worldwide jobs?
    Every $1 spent creates employment somewhere. Even if coal is mined using heavy machinery, and less worker hours, the jobs flow through to the construction and maintenance of that heavy machinery. The main variable would be the pay rate. Or maybe an economist can explain the other variables?

    • Ronald Brak 8 years ago

      The first thing that needs to be done when talking about job creation is to define what is actually meant by the words ‘job creation’. However, apart from a few economists who are pretty much ignored by everyone, nobody ever seems to do this. As a result, probably 99.9% or more of the discussion on the topic is pretty much useless. It’s like one of those 500 post long internet arguments on whether or not X is moral that never gets around to defining what is meant by the word moral. But explaining stuff can be boring, and if you don’t explain stuff and don’t let yourself get pinned down then you can never really be wrong. It’s like if I say my policy will generate more Quatloos than my opponent’s policy. Maybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong, but if nobody knows what a Quatloo actually is nobody can say I’m wrong. So what we end up with is situations where two politicans arguing that they will each create more jobs than the other with the resulting discussion having all the substance of a school yard argument over whether or not two Spidermans could beat Batman. (Because we all know that one Spiderman wouldn’t stand a chance.)

      • Grok 8 years ago

        Well put Ron. It was always hammered into me ‘define your terms, define your terms’, but almost no one ever does.
        Even more importantly, on the DC/Marvel ledger you’re on the right side as well. Congratulations!

  3. Bill 8 years ago

    The job-creation argument cuts zero ice with older conservatives, especially of the rural kind. Indeed they see it as a backward step. They say, “Yes, I can blow up my tractor and employ 27 men wiith shovels to replace it!” They have spent their lives working on labour-savings devices and therein lies the history of the survival of Australian industries.

  4. John D 8 years ago

    Good set of graphs. Useful to give strength to the “I am a green worker and I vote” campaigns.

    However, the other issue is what sort of jobs and how many of these jobs are easily automated? Transferring a very well paid coal miner to a low pay green job is not going to go down well with coal miners. Even more so if coal miners are not suited to the green jobs.

  5. Ant 8 years ago

    Um, where is nuclear in this graphic – I totally agree renewables are the way to go and are cheaper but the graphic does not include nuclear so that’s a misleading headline

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