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Green Energy Upping Employment

Monday November 10th 2014

New research has revealed that renewable energy projects create 10 times more green jobs than similar-sized fossil fuel investments. The study by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) calculated that investing in renewable energy adds half a job per gigawatt hour (GWh) of electricity generated, with roughly 10 jobs created for every £1m invested.

Results from the two-year research project, which took data from the US, Europe, and China, advocates that green energy could provide an employment boost, through both short term construction jobs and lifetime plant jobs.

According to the UKERC, solar electricity produces between 0.4 and 1.1 jobs per GWh of electricity generated, compared to the 0.1 to 0.2 jobs created by coal and gas power. At the same time, wind energy was discovered to generate between 0.05 and 0.5 jobs per GWh generated, and energy efficiency policies result in between 0.3 and one job per GWh saved.

Dr Will Blyth from Oxford Energy Associates, who led the study, said that it proved government-led investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can in fact improve the economy by boosting employment. He commented:

“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,” he said. “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.”

However the UKERC report also suggests that, while green jobs are one positive outcome of investing in renewables and energy efficiency, politicians’ statements on green job creation are hindered by uncertainties. Another author of the report, Dr Rob Gross of the Imperial College London, said:

“In principle, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can create jobs. However, the issues are complex and simplistic conclusions are best avoided

“Ultimately, it is more helpful to think about jobs in terms of long-term goals and the major challenges we all face, like tackling climate change. This is why it’s important that we think through these issues and the kind of future we want.”