Wind power’s ‘green jobs’: reality or rhetoric?

WEEKEND READING

Ontario’s Green Energy Act was put forward as a means of securing a “green” economy and producing job growth in “clean tech.”

Did that happen?

Ottawa energy economist Robert Lyman lays out the facts and research in this paper.

One of the persistent claims of those who advocate extensive government actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is that such actions will promote the economy as well as the environment by stimulating the creation of “green jobs”. On this basis, they justify truly massive subsidies to renewable energy production, stringent regulations and mandates either to suppress investment in hydrocarbon development or to force electrical utilities and consumers to use non-fossil energy, and intrusive regulations requiring manufacturers to produce and sell vehicles, residential buildings and appliances with lower energy consumption ratings. In theory, the jobs created in manufacturing and installing wind, solar and biomass plants and in installing newer energy technologies will be wonderful for the economy. 

To understand whether this is true, one first has to define what we mean by “green energy”. Environmentalists apply a very broad definition, including not just solar, wind and biomass energy used for electricity generation but also hydro-electric generation, ethanol, all the various industries that are associated with reducing energy consumption such as home insulation and high technology electric motors, and even companies that build bicycle paths. No doubt some of these industries have increased the number of people they employ with the large increase in public funding devoted to them. There are very few studies available that look at the question this broadly. It is possible, however, to examine specifically the claims that renewable energy (mainly wind, solar and biomass for electricity generation) has an overall positive effect.

Read the full paper here.GREEN JOBS-March19

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