Renewables Are Better At Creating Jobs Than At Creating Energy

Anericanexperiment blog posted”Energy Industry There to Produce Energy, not Jobs” written by John Phelan..The author begins by quoting Gregg Mast of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota who is boasting about clean energy jobs growth.  Mast says:

 “The fact is,the number of clean-energy jobs has grown every year since the release of the first Clean Jobs Midwest-Minnesota report in 2016, and these good-paying jobs have been added at a faster pace than the statewide average.”


Countering Gregg Mast’s boast,  Phelan responds by saying:

“This might sound like great news, but there is something missing from this celebration. It is something vital. Indeed, from an economic point of view, it is the most vital thing of all: How much energy are these workers actually producing?  Increasing productivity — the ratio of outputs produced to inputs used — is key to economic growth and raising living standards”.

So, how productive are these new clean-energy workers? How much energy does each produce?  Sadly, the answer seems to be “not much.” According to data on electric-power generation by primary energy sources from the Energy Information Administration and figures for employment in each sector from the U.S. Energy and Employment Report, we can see that, in 2017,   the 412 workers employed in Minnesota’s natural-gas sector produced an average of 16,281 megawatt hours of electricity each. For coal, the figure was 13,230 megawatt hours produced for each of the 1,722 workers employed in the state.

But for renewable wind and solar, the numbers are far less encouraging. In terms of megawatt hours produced per worker, Minnesota’s wind sector came in a somewhat distant third. Each of the 1,966 workers here generated an average of just 5,665 megawatt hours in 2017. This was just 43 percent of the amount of electricity a Minnesota coal worker produced annually and 35 percent of that produced by a natural-gas worker.

For solar, the numbers are even worse. In 2017, each of Minnesota’s 3,800 solar-energy workers produced an average of just 157 megawatt hours. This was just 1.2 percent of the energy produced by a coal worker and only 1 percent of that which a natural-gas worker produced.

The chart below illustrates the above:




In terms of that vital ratio of outputs (energy generated) to inputs (number of workers), wind energy is a low-productivity sector compared to natural gas and coal. Solar is even worse. Piling more inputs into these sectors when they could be more productive in other sectors lowers productivity and economic welfare. This is certainly not something to be celebrated — from an economic point of view, at least.

Mast and Clean Energy Economy Minnesota need to remember that the point of an energy industry is to generate energy, not to generate jobs.

A response by supporters of wind and solar is that there are workers out there insulating homes.  How many of solar’s 3800 jobs are insulating homes?


2 responses to “Renewables Are Better At Creating Jobs Than At Creating Energy

  1. Richard Waughtal

    Lots of professors out there aren’t there! By-the-by, that little thing about grammar, ‘To be grammatically correct, it should either say, “Climate change is primarily a natural phenomenon” or … ‘ Well old buddy (no pun intended), the man had a point. Many well-evolved thinker types are known for, possibly dissecting the molecules on the head of a pin for example! Horrors! So for an old mechanical engineer like me, I just use “Grammarly”. See there it work; added a comma after me … wow! I love your work! So happy you seem able to sustain a very high level of competence and level-headedness in the Climate Change “swamp”. And so glad you went for the phenomenon approach. Dick Example below.

    • Dick thanks for the look and comment. I think I am going to quit posting on Facebook. So I am glad linked up at the blog.

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