Tuesday, 10 January 2012

No bright future for "green" jobs in Germany

The German government´s dream about hundreds of  thousands of "green" jobs has been - and will remain - just a dream. Since chancellor Angela Merkel in March announced an about-turn in energy policy by deciding to switch off Germany's eight oldest nuclear reactors and to close by 2022 nine others currently online, job loss announcements have kept on coming.

EON, the biggest power supplier, is planning to cut 11,000 jobs worldwide, and its rival RWE will shed 8,000 jobs.  And the German solar energy industry is in dire straits because of foreign (mainly Chinese) competition and a government decision to reduce subsidies.

The government - and renewable energy industry lobbyists - still speak about several hundred thousands of new new jobs to be created in the "green" energy sector, but researchers at the leading independent research institute RWI are questioning these figures:

"Just for show," Manuel Frondel, a researcher at RWI institute, said dismissively, arguing the figures did not take into account jobs lost because of the shift to renewable energy.
"Renewable energies demand a lot of capital but less manpower" than conventional energy sources, he said.
Hundreds of personnel are needed for the operation of a nuclear or coal-powered plant, while very few are required for the running of a wind or solar park.

Frondel in particular points the finger at "blatant (political) mistakes" in the solar energy sector.

While the installation of solar panels in Germany has jumped in recent years, it is down to a subsidy system financed through levying a surcharge on consumers' energy bills, he said.
At the same time, the system has proved particularly beneficial for Asian producers of solar panels which are less costly than those produced in Germany.
"Every job (in Germany) in the solar (sector) costs 250,000 euros ($318,000)" to electricity consumers, meaning they are "doomed" or already lost jobs, Frondel commented.
According to a study last year by Stuttgart University's Institute for Energy Industry and Efficient Energy Use, the end of nuclear energy by 2022 will have a limited negative impact on jobs in the short term.
"But by 2025 job losses of about 185,000 people will be recorded here too," it said.
Additionally some research institutes believe the expected rise in the cost of electricity in Germany will hold back growth and neutralise in the short term any employment benefits reaped from the move to renewable energy.

Read the entire article here

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