Green energy generates 10 times as many jobs as fossil fuels

Investment in renewables and energy efficiency can create up to 10 times as many jobs per unit of electricity as investment in fossil fuels, finds a new report.

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) analysed data from fifty studies published since 2000 on the relationship between green energy investment and job creation in the USA, Europe and China.

It found that electricity from renewable projects created about one job per gigawatt-hour generated compared with 0.1 for electricity from coal or gas.


“Government-led investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can offer short-term benefits, helping the economy to grow in times of recession by promoting employment,” said Dr Will Blyth from Oxford Energy Associates who led the two-year research project.

“When the economy is starting to recover – such as now – the key challenge for government policy is to encourage an economically efficient transition towards the country’s strategic goals – such as tackling climate change. Here there is a strong case for investment in renewable technologies and efficiency measures as part of the transformational change to a low carbon energy system,” he added.

Temper expectations

However the report concludes by cautioning against unbridled investment in green energy in order to create jobs.

It argues that as the economy recovers towards full employment, job creation is not a desirable outcome in and of itself. More important is overall economic efficiency and tackling environmental issues.

Therefore the proper debate over green investment should consider “the wider framework of energy and environmental policy, not a narrow analysis of green job impacts”

“The green jobs debate has always been vexed – often because it has been argued between entities with vested interests and because analysis is too short-term or provides an incomplete picture,” said Dr Rob Gross, from Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report.

“Our report helps explain the issues and shows that, in principle, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can create jobs. However, the issues are complex and simplistic conclusions are best avoided.”

At the Labour party conference in September, Ed Miliband pledged to create one million green jobs as part of a 10-year plan to make Britain a global leader in clean technology and renewable energy.

Download the full UKERC green jobs report for free here.

Brad Allen

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