Monday, April 18, 2011

How Many Jobs Are Created by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy?

"[...] if you've ever seen the look on someone's face the day they get a job, [...] they look like they could fly. And unless we start tapping into that kind of spirit again, there's no way we're gonna fix anything in this country." -- Dave Kovic (impersonating U.S. President Mitchell in the 1993 movie Dave)

You don't have to cite the IPCC's fourth assessment report if you want to persuade people to adopt renewable energy technologies or buy energy efficient appliances, cars, and buildings. If they know they will have more jobs in the sustainable energy future, they will listen to clean (green) energy advocates.

Above all, what are green jobs? The UNEP defines green jobs as "work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality." (Worldwatch Institute, 2008) If you want to know specific names of green jobs, there are extensive lists of green increased demand occupations, green enhanced skills occupations, green new and emerging occupations according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA), which are online at the O*NET Resource Center (2009).

Perhaps the most influential paper on this topic after the UNEP's 2008 green jobs report mentioned above is Wei, et al.'s Energy Policy article (2010). While the UNEP study or the WWF's similar study for Europe (Ghani-Eneland, et al., 2009) calculated specific number of jobs that are created or could be created by green economics, Wei, et al. brilliantly extracted an average number of jobs per unit energy output by technology.
Their meta-analysis is quoted in a summary table as this:

Energy technologyCapacity factorEquipment lifetime (years)Average employment over life of facility (total job-years per GWh)
Landfill Gas85%400.72
Small Hydro55%400.27
Solar PV20%250.87
Solar Thermal40%250.23
Carbon Capture & Storage80%400.18
Natural Gas80%400.11
Energy Efficiency100%200.38
Although some technologies' capacity factors or lifetimes are arguable, it shows strong potential for large job creation from most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Conventional technologies like fossil fuel, nuclear, and wind technologies had relatively lower employment multiplier effect.

The Center for American Progress (Pollin, et al., 2009) has a different calculation. They calculated numbers of new jobs per unit monetary output. (Wei, et al. compared total numbers of jobs between technologies.)
Energy sourceDirect new jobs per $1 million in outputIndirect new jobs per $1 million in outputTotal job creation per $1 million in output
Fossil fuelsOil and natural gas0.82.93.7
Energy efficiencyBuilding retrofits7.04.911.9
Mass Transit / Freight Rail (90% MT, 10% FR)11.04.915.9
Smart grid4.34.68.9
In this study, the energy efficiency sector's employment potential is higher than the previous table. Renewable energy sources' job creation power is stronger than that of fossil fuels.

There have been doubts to clean energy industry's employment potential. For example, Lesser (2010) asserted that higher electricity price due to higher penetration rates of costly (or subsidized) renewable electricity will actually decrease overall employment. Mostafaeipour (2010) pointed out that renewable industry's (in this article, wind power) workforce is predominantly male.
Lesser's assertions can be deputed by recent studies promising renewable energy's grid-parity even without subsidies, one of which I introduced in my previous post (
Although gender injustice against women in employment doesn't seem the renewable energy sector's exclusive issue, it is an important issue I'll look into later.

However, for now, I can say there're empirical evidence for better employment opportunities in the sustainable energy future.


Ghani-Eneland, M., Renner, M., & Chawla, A. (2009). Low Carbon Jobs for Europe: Current Opportunities and Future Prospects. Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). [Full-text at]

Lesser, J. A. (2010). Renewable Energy and the Fallacy of 'Green' Jobs. The Electricity Journal, 23(7), 45-53. [Full-text at]

Martinez-Fernandez, C., Hinojosa, C., & Miranda, G. (2010). Greening Jobs and Skills: Labour Market Implications of Addressing Climate Change. OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers, (2010/2). [Full-text at]

Mostafaeipour, A. (2010). Productivity and development issues of global wind turbine industry. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14(3), 1048-1058. [Full-text at]

O*NET Resource Center. (2009). The Green Economy, from

Pollin, R., Heintz, J., & Garrett-Peltier, H. (2009). The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy: How the economic stimulus program and new legislation can boost U.S. economic growth and employment. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. [Full-text at]

Wei, M., Patadia, S., & Kammen, D. M. (2010). Putting renewables and energy efficiency to work: How many jobs can the clean energy industry generate in the US? Energy Policy, 38(2), 919-931. [Full-text at]

Worldwatch Institute. (2008). Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). [Full-text at]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two grave nuclear-related difficulties governments cannot resolve, but nuclear moratorium can

There are two grave difficulties that governments cannot resolve with science and technology, but can totally avoid by declaring nuclear moratorium.

The first difficulty of governments is persuading people to accept financial uncertainties in nuclear power plant proposals.
Above all, people never know the full costs of the proposed nuclear power plant. Let alone non-monetary externalities, there are direct and indirect subsidies hidden in its capital and O&M cost estimation.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has published an interesting (and helpful) report (written by Doug Koplow) on economics of nuclear power. Its title (Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies) tells it all. Currently, the subsidies for nuclear power sum up to 11.42 cents per kilowatt-hour, while EIA's average electricity price estimation spans between 5.4~5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Notable subsidies are:
  • Nuclear power purchase mandates ("clean energy" portfolio standards)
  • Nuclear production tax credit
  • Reactor loan guarantees or direct loans (domestic and foreign)
  • Accelerated depreciation
  • Recovery of construction/work-in-progress (regulated utilities only)
  • Government research and development
  • Tax-exempt public reactors; no required rate of return
  • Subsidized site approval and licensing costs
  • Transfer of stranded asset liabilities
  • Traditional rate regulation (return on “prudently incurred” investments even if not used or economically competitive)
  • Regulatory-delay insurance
  • Shifting of health-related liabilities to taxpayers
  • Reduced property tax burdens for new plants at state or county level
  • Subsidized access, bonding on public lands for uranium mining
  • Percentage depletion on uranium extraction
  • Legacy costs of uranium mining, milling sites (contamination costs staying with taxpayers)
  • Federal uranium-stockpile management
  • Free or subsidized use of large quantities of cooling water
  • Cap on accident liability: reactors, contractors, fuel-cycle facilities, shippers ("Price-Anderson" cap)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission services not paid by user fees
  • U.S. funding of proliferation oversight abroad by the IAEA
  • Plant security/low design-basis requirements for attacks
  • Tax breaks for reactor decommissioning
  • Nationalization of nuclear waste management
Obviously, these subsidies reduce the costs of nuclear energy and cause injustice on renewable energy sources. Zelenika-Zovko & Pearce (2011) assessed  possibility of divesting those subsidies from nuclear energy giving to solar energy in the United States. According to their analysis, subsidy transfer from nuclear to solar will result in dramatic increase in photovoltaic power production, which will eventually surpass nuclear electricity production from 2046.

The second difficulty governments have to handle is people's distrust in their governments once any nuclear accident takes place.
Because every pro-nuclear government has been championing the safety of nuclear power plants, they can hardly admit adverse health effects or fatality of radioactive materials coming from failed nuclear facilities. Consequently, people cannot trust a government's delayed or summarized announcements. Since Fukushima Dai-ich nuclear power plant accident occurred, nuclear apologists tell us radiation levels in our neighborhood (whether it is in America, Europe or Asia) are so low that they do not affect our health. That can be true, although nobody won't actually dare to feed their children with irradiated milk or lettuce.
But sometimes psychological effects of nuclear accidents can exploit people's health even the actual radiation level is negligibly low. This is an important issue that Becker (2011) raises in his editorial of the journal BMJ.

Psychological effects of a nuclear accident are: anxiety disorders, depression, a persistent subjective sense of ill health, deep fatalism about the future, and multiple unexplained physical symptoms. Becker cites World Health Organization's conclusion about the Chernobyl nuclear accident that psychological effects had been "the largest public health problem caused by the accident to date."

Becker points out importance of people's 'trust' in a government to protect people from nuclear emergencies. He stresses that it is more important for a government to gain people's confidence than to explain them how low the radiation level is. He makes this point clear by saying,
"the provision of timely, accurate, clear, and credible information may be the single most important way to save lives, reduce injuries and illnesses, prevent psychosocial effects, and help maintain people’s trust and confidence."

Therefore, my conclusion is: "Governments, declare nuclear moratorium!"

Becker, S. M. (2011). Protecting public health after major radiation emergencies. BMJ, 342, 717-718. [Full-text at]
Koplow, D. (2011). Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists. [Full-text at]
Zelenika-Zovko, I., & Pearce, J. M. (2011). Diverting indirect subsidies from the nuclear industry to the photovoltaic industry: Energy and financial returns. Energy Policy, 39(5), 2626-2632. [Full-text at]

Monday, April 11, 2011

A free pdf book on costs and risks of nuclear power's global expansion

I found a free pdf book on costs and risks of nuclear power's expansion. It was prepared by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) and published at the end of 2010.

Sokolski, H. (Ed.). (2010). Nuclear Power's Global Expansion: Weighing Its Costs and Risks. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College. [Full-text at]

Table of Contents


Overview............................................  1

1. Nuclear Power, Energy Markets, and Proliferation.  3
Henry Sokolski

Part I: Nuclear Power's Economic, Environmental,
 and Political Prospectus........................... 51

2. Mapping Nuclear Power's Future Spread............ 53
Sharon Squassoni

3. Nuclear Power: Climate Fix or Folly?............. 93
Amory B. Lovins, Imran Sheikh, Alex Markevich

4. The Credit Crunch and Nuclear Power..............125
Stephen Thomas

5. Taxpayer Financing for Nuclear Power: Precedents
 and Consequences...................................149
Peter A. Bradford

Part II: Expanding Nuclear Power in Existing and to
 Future Nuclear States..............................187

6. Nuclear Power Made in France: A Model?...........189
Mycle Schneider

7. What Will Be Required of the British Government
 to Build the Next Nuclear Power Plant?.............279
Stephen Thomas

8. A Case Study of Subsidies to Calvert Cliffs......335
Doug Koplow

9. Nuclear Power in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and
 Turkey: How Cost Effective?........................383
Peter Tynan and John Stephenson

10. Civilian Nuclear Power in the Middle East: The
 Technical Requirements.............................423
James M. Acton and Wyn Q. Bowen

Part III: Making and Disposing of Nuclear Fuel......477

11. Nuclear Fuel: Myths and Realities...............479
Steve Kidd

12. The Costs and Benefits of Reprocessing..........525
Frank Von Hippel

Part IV: Using Market Economics to Price Nuclear
 Power and Its Risks................................553

13. Third Party Insurance: The Nuclear Sector's
 'Silent' Subsidy in Europe.........................555
Antony Froggatt and Simon Carroll

14. Market-Based Nuclear Nonproliferation...........627
Henry Sokolski

About the Contributors..............................641