A study that contended that Spain's government-subsidized green jobs program has destroyed 2.2 jobs for every new green job created and offered "a note of caution" to U.S. policymakers was based on non traditional research methodologies, lacked supporting statistics and ignored policy differences between the two countries, according to a white paper issued by the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The methodology used in the Spanish study "does not reflect an employment impact analysis," according to the NREL report. "Accordingly, the primary conclusion made by the authors -- policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses -- is not supported by their work."
Released in March, the "Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources" by Professor Gabriel Calzada, an economist at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said "at minimum" the research results served as "a note of caution" to U.S. policymakers that "the reality is far from what has typically been presented" and that such programs as Spain has provided have had far-ranging negative impacts on other employment and economic development (see NGI, April 13).
"Spain's experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the United States should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about nine jobs lost for every four created, to which we have to add those jobs that nonsubsidized investments with the same resources would have created," the Calzada report said.
The push from the Obama administration has been to create up to 5 million jobs in the alternative energy sector (renewables and energy efficiency) as a means of stimulating the economy nationally and globally. Calzada's study contended that there is a price to pay overall, and it could be the destruction of more nongovernment-subsidized jobs that otherwise would be created through private investment.
But Calzada's study deviated from traditional research methodologies used to estimate job impacts, lacked transparency and supporting statistics and failed to compare renewable energy technologies with comparable energy industry metrics, according to NREL. Calzada's study also failed to account for "important issues such as the role of government in emerging markets, the success of [renewable energy] exports in Spain and the fact that induced economic impacts can be attributed to [renewable energy] deployment...differences in policy are significant enough that the results of analysis conducted in the Spanish context are not likely to be indicative of work force impacts in the United States or other countries," NREL said.
NREL said a series of studies have found that renewable energy development would have a net positive impact on employment throughout Europe. Comprehensive analyses show that net employment impacts are sensitive to assumptions regarding future energy prices, strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the capacity to export technology, NREL said.
"With increased awareness of potential energy price scenarios, recent research has found that it is only when conventional energy prices are forecast to be very low that net employment impacts from [renewable energy] investments are negative," according to the NREL study.
A report issued earlier this year by the Copenhagen Climate Council (CCC) concluded that a firm commitment to low-carbon energy sources could create millions of sustainable new jobs in the United States (see NGI, June 1). According to the CCC findings, a combination of policy scenarios using renewable energy investments and energy efficiency measures could generate two to eight times more jobs per unit of energy delivered than the fossil fuel-based sector. In the United States alone, the study estimates that a national renewable portfolio standard of 25% in 2025 coupled with a 0.5% annual electricity consumption growth rate would generate more than two million jobs, and increasing low-carbon sources by around 50% would generate more than three million jobs.
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