Pointing to the experience of European countries, where it says a focus on renewable energy brought “job loss, higher energy prices and corruption,” a conservative think tank is arguing that the Obama administration’s strategy of investing in green energy and technology is doomed to failure.
In “The Myth of Green Jobs: The European Experience,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Kenneth P. Green – yes, Green – analyzes “four European countries that went hog wild for renewables, while singing the praises of green jobs: Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark.” The thrust of his argument is that while investment in renewables might directly create some jobs, these “subsidized jobs ‘created’ are, by definition, less efficient uses of capital than market-created jobs.”
Take the case of Italy. Green points to research from the libertarian Bruno Leoni Institute that found money invested in renewable energy would have created 6.9 times as many jobs had private industry invested the money into the larger energy sector, or 4.8 times as many jobs had the money gone into the economy in general.
Green uses Germany as an example of how investment in renewables can result in higher energy prices. He cites research that shows “the implementation of wind and solar power raised household energy rates by 7.5 percent.” The German policies did lead to abatement in greenhouse-gas emissions, he says, but “the cost was astonishingly high: over $1,000 per ton for solar power, and over $80 per ton for wind power.” This at a time in which the carbon price in the European Trading System was about $19 per ton at the time, he says.
[Editor’s Note: Why is a story like this on EarthTechling, which seems so pro-clean tech everything? We believe in providing a place for different viewpoints to be represented. The bottom line is that we think green innovation is important for the public and private sectors, but we don’t mind reporting that others think differently.]