Renewable Energy Job Myth: Subsidised Wind and Solar Destroy Far More Jobs Than They Ever ‘Create’

The principles of economics are not hard, nor are they a mystery.

Jobs require viable businesses, viable businesses require cheap and reliable electricity. Deprive businesses of cheap and reliable power and those businesses will very soon cease to exist.

Those truisms, however, continue to fall on deaf ears in Australia’s so-called ‘wind power capital’, South Australia. Its obsession with wind power has relegated it to the status of not just a national, but to an international laughing stock.

The reasons for that have been spelt out on these pages time and time again, such as in this post: South Australia’s Disastrous Wind Power Experiment: Business Crippled as Power Prices Double

And South Australia isn’t the only place in the world where subsidised, intermittent and wholly unreliable wind power has become a proven social and economic disaster. Oh no. The inevitable consequences of trying to run an economy on the whims of the weather are universal.

In this post STT covered a very detailed study from Wisconsin on the effect of rising power prices in subsidies diverted to wind and solar has on real jobs. Based on actual data, not models and assumptions – Wisconsin’s piddling 10% renewable target knocked a $billion hole in annual economic activity; is killing off 10,000 real jobs every year; and, surprise, surprise has failed to deliver any sign of the much vaunted ‘green’ jobs bonanza – long promised by the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers.

The notion that there’s a net benefit in employing people using subsidies permanently directed to the so-called ‘industries’ that employ them, is an economic nonsense. Sure, a completely unproductive and inefficient use of resources can be achieved by creating ‘jobs’ for all. The net result being, of course, wasted resources; or in the parlance, “an economically inefficient outcome”.

On a visit to India in the 1960s, Milton Friedman, one of America’s sharpest economists, was proudly taken by the government to see a canal under construction and was struck by the fact that the earthworks were being done by hundreds of workers using shovels. Friedman quizzed his hosts about why they weren’t using heavy earth-moving equipment? And was told: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.”

Friedman’s retort – “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels” – became the paradigm response to all manner of  government profligacy and wanton waste. That is, economic inefficiency.

Another study, this time from neighbouring Minnesota, proves that – when it comes to creating jobs through subsidies to wind and solar – what’s played out in Wisconsin and in South Australia (and anywhere else in the world attempting to run on sunshine and breezes) is a bit like equipping millions with spoons to dig canals.

Energy jobs report shows that “clean energy” is all about creating unproductive jobs
Center of the American Experiment
Martha Njolomole
3 April 2020

Year after year CEEM (Clean Energy Economy Minnesota) continues to hail the potential of the “clean energy” sector to produce and grow jobs.

Last year, CEEM praised the “clean energy” sector for employing 61,047 Minnesotans in 2018.

CEEM also praised the state’s “clean energy” sector for adding 2,700 jobs between 2017 and 2018 – growing more than 2.5 times faster than overall job growth in the state which was 1.9%. This is all according to the 2019 USEER (US Energy Employment Report).

Now the 2020 US Energy Employment Report is out, and the numbers are the same. And, as expected, employment in the Minnesota “clean energy” sector has slightly grown between 2018 and 2019.  But these numbers only paint a rosy picture about the impact of “clean energy” for the Minnesota economy and overall employment. With deeper analysis, we see that “clean energy“ employment is highly inefficient for a number of reasons.

“Clean Energy” jobs are not highly productive
CEEM boasts of the high employment numbers in “clean energy”, but these numbers have to be taken in context. What matters in the energy industry more than producing employment is making sure energy is being produced as efficiently as possible to lower costs and provide lower rates to consumers.

Looking at job productivity gives the idea that renewable electricity generation is not as efficient as traditional electricity production.

In 2019, the Solar Electric Power Generation (EPG) sector employed more people Coal, Natural Gas and Nuclear EPG sectors combined. But solar only surpassed Hydroelectric in megawatt electricity hours generated. Moreover, both coal and nuclear sectors each produced more electricity than both solar and wind combined.

Megawatt hours
of electricity generated
(2019)
Employees in sector (2019)
Coal 18,206,000 1,458
Natural Gas 10,372,000 745
Nuclear 14,105,000 1,814
Hydroelectric 887,000 971
Wind 11,040,000 2,352
Solar 1,614,000 4,927

 

To make a better comparison, we calculate how many megawatt hours electricity production generates.

It turns out coal, natural gas and nuclear electric production are the most efficient electric energy production methods. Coal produces more than 2 times the number of megawatts hours of electricity that wind produces. And solar energy produces the least amount of electricity per one job. In short, it requires many more workers to produce “clean energy” than it does using fossil fuels; “clean energy” is inefficient and costs Minnesotans money.

Source: 2020 US Energy Employment Report

 

Most “clean energy” jobs are temporary and have little to do with energy production
The energy sector is there to produce energy. Therefore, it is only normal that the majority of jobs in “clean energy” be about energy production. And for these jobs to be counted as having an impact on the economy, they have to be long lived. But that’s not the case with the “clean energy” sector.

The majority of jobs in “clean energy” are temporary construction jobs that should not be counted as part of energy jobs because their overall impact in Minnesota’s economy is very short-lived.

According to CEEM less than 1% of jobs in the clean energy sector are in utilities and about 90% of jobs are in construction, manufacturing, trade and professional services. Employees in manufacturing and construction do not spend their full time working on energy related services.

The energy Efficiency sector
Let us for instance look at Minnesota’s growing Energy Efficiency sector which employs the most people in the “clean energy sector”.

In 2019 Efficiency employed 47,518 employees, but what kind of jobs do most of these people do?:

They manufacture ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and install efficient lighting systems; tweak traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; build renewable heating and cooling systems and handle advanced building materials. Other jobs employ people who develop software and contractors who diagnose, adjust, and verify HVAC efficiency.” ~ CEEM

All of the above-mentioned jobs are not in energy production; they are random manufacturing, construction and maintenance jobs that would exist without clean energy mandates for wind and solar.

Minnesota generally has a national below average reliance on natural gas but the third highest ratio of efficiency spending on energy revenue in the Midwest. In fact, energy efficiency spending rose 22% from 2013 through 2017 in Minnesota. Energy efficiency jobs should not be counted as clean energy jobs, nor should they be costing the state and people money.

Source: 2020 US Energy Employment Report

 

“Green energy” is highly subsidized
Studies show that natural gas is becoming cheaper and cheaper. Clean energy on the other hand, especially solar and wind turbines, rely on subsidies and incentives to break even for consumers. Still, even with these incentives, wind turbines and solar panel installations are driving up residential energy costs. And like most “clean energy” jobs, the majority of jobs in solar and wind are in construction and not actual energy production. And these construction jobs are temporary and will require mandates to sustain. Wind and solar drive up the cost of electricity, and higher electricity costs destroy jobs, especially in energy intensive industries like farming, manufacturing, and mining.

Conclusion
We could employ a lot more people in farming if we mandated the use of horses for agricultural labor (and horses, too), but this would lead to a drop in productivity and make everyone worse off. This is what we are doing in the energy sector by utilizing energy sources that are less productive than traditional generating assets. These jobs do not reflect the growth of a new productive sector of the economy, rather they reflect government-imposed inefficiencies that are driving up costs.

Moreover, most of the jobs touted by renewable energy special interest groups are in the energy efficiency sector, but these jobs would exist without Minnesota’s mandates for wind and solar. Therefore, it makes no sense to use these job numbers as justification for more renewable energy mandates that will drive up the cost of electricity and destroy more jobs than they create.
Center of the American Experiment

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Pronczak says:

    Today’s Fraser Coast ‘news’paper 14 May, had the headline “Green energy job boom” going on to say a local EV “guru” believes in a host of benefits in large-scale renewables shouldn’t be ignored. He already has a solar farm on previously productive agricultural land.
    The Beatles pop group in guru land lead many into a dead-end of thinking.

    The paper quotes a report released by Solar Citizens that cites hundreds of projects in QLD looked at “positive spin-offs.” The SC analysis conducted by Green Energy Markets, suggested 51,000 construction jobs could be generated if the 108 proposed projects became realities. “Suggested and could” aren’t exactly positive statements.
    In the “estimation” by SC of how many local jobs would be in the Wide Bay Burnett region if 16 projects went ahead including the “massive” Forest Wind-Siemans Financial backed project, is 250 operational jobs. Not exactly many for the cost, in the highest unemployment area in QLD.
    No doubt the NIOA-Rheinmetall munitions factory being built at Maryborough, is morally linked to the unemployment as well as former Minister for the Military Manufacturing Industry Christopher Pyne, who stated in a speech on the 6 October 2016 to the USA’s Military Manufacturers Association, that Australia is to spend $195 billion to make military manufacturing the cornerstone of Australia’s manufacturing industry.
    Does anyone perceive a link to the China beat-up over ‘origin or emanation’ of COVID-19 or is that tilting at windmills?

    The suddenly announced massive wind farm was after a questioned shortfall in regional electricity supply was raised, although it was dismissed by the state government.
    Local state government MP Bruce Saunders is naturally tickled pink over SC. Federal MP Llew O’Brien is somewhat more cautious in support stating the projects “…not become a burden on Australian taxpayers.” Difficult to understand but apparently O’Brien recently resigned from the LNP yet still attends cabinet meetings; a duck not being a duck curiosity.
    Oddly the LNP is taking an each way bet, although ScoMo has stated no community would be “forced” to accept nuclear. With no qualms of nuclear powered or possibly armed warships, docking in AU.

    In no past election was any question of proceeding on the path of renewables recalled as being asked. But where in the definition of democracy does it say it’s based on a two party system that preselects candidates based on their loyalty to the system?
    That was the basis of the ALP-NLP 1980s economic ‘con’census to give away economic sovereignty to be perpetually in debt to private financiers.

    To add to the example of Milton Friedman, that is also a test for dementia, given a bathtub full of water, what would you do to empty it when offered a cup and spoon.

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

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