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Energy Sector Jobs to 2030: a Global Analysis

Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council published a global energy scenario, Energy [R]evolution, that sets out a vision for low-carbon global energy supply and compares it to the energy projection put forward by the International Energy Agency (IEA 2007).

This report presents an analysis of the potential job creation associated with the two scenarios to 2030. Only direct employment associated with electricity production is calculated, including jobs in fuel production, manufacturing, construction, and operations and maintenance.

Results are presented for the regions used in both the IEA and Greenpeace projections, namely OECD North America, OECD Europe, OECD Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Middle East, Developing Asia, the Transition Economies, India, and China. Additional detail is given for the G8 countries and the European Union.

There have been many reports in recent years attempting to analyse local, national, or regional job effects of energy scenarios and energy policy. This is the first report that attempts to systematically analyse global job impacts of a low-carbon energy future.

The Energy [R]evolution scenarios

The Energy [R]evolution sets a target reduction of 50% below the 1990 level of greenhouse emissions by 2050, with average per capita emissions of less than 1.3 tonnes per annum. Emissions reductions are achieved through existing technologies, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and combined heat and power generation. Coal and nuclear power are gradually phased out.

Global electricity generation under the Reference and [R]evolution scenarios

By 2050, the [R]evolution scenario shows a 38% reduction in energy demand, and 77% of global energy supply comes from renewable sources.

Methodology

Employment is projected for the [R]evolution and Reference scenarios at 2010, 2020, and 2030 for each region by using a series of multipliers and the projected electrical consumption. An indicative result for energy efficiency jobs is calculated, although the associated uncertainty is even greater than for energy supply. The inputs to the employment projections for energy are as follows:

- Installed electrical capacity by technology

- Employment factors, which give the number of jobs per MW for each technology. These are the key inputs to the analysis. Region-specific factors are used for coal mining, but otherwise factors are derived from OECD data and adjusted using regional multipliers.

- Decline factors, or learning adjustment rates, for each technology, which reduce the employment factors by a given percentage per year.

- Regional job multipliers are used to adjust the employment factors in each region to take account of different stages of economic development.

- Local manufacturing percentages for renewable energy technologies and percentages for domestic coal and gas production, in order to assign jobs to the correct regions.

- Export percentages for renewable technologies, coal and gas: where equipment, coal or gas is imported, the country of origin is required in order to assign jobs to that region.

- Energy efficiency employment is calculated from the reduction in electricity generation in the [R]evolution compared to the Reference scenario, multiplied by a derived factor for jobs per unit of energy.

Employment numbers are indicative only, as a large number of assumptions are required to make calculations. Quantitative data on present employment based on actual surveys is extremely difficult to obtain, even in established industries such as coal and gas generation, so it is not possible to calibrate the methodology against time series data. However, within the limits of data availability, the figures presented are indicative of employment levels under the two scenarios.

Results

  • By 2010 global energy sector jobs in the [R]evolution scenario are estimated at about 9.3 million, 200,000 more than the Reference scenario.
  • By 2020, the [R]evolution scenario is estimated to have about 10.5 million jobs, 2 million more than the Reference scenario. More than half a million jobs are lost in the Reference scenario between 2010 and 2020, while 1 million are added in the [R]evolution scenario.
  • By 2030 the [R]evolution scenario has about 11.3 million jobs, 2.7 million more than the Reference scenario. Approximately 800,000 new jobs are created between 2020 and 2030 in the [R]evolution scenario, ten times the number created in the Reference scenario.

The number of jobs under the [R]evolution and the Reference scenario are shown below, by technology and by type: construction, manufacturing and installation (CMI), operations and maintenance (O&M), fuel supply, and energy efficiency. Combined heat and power generation is included under the fuel type, for example gas or biomass.

There is a decrease in coal power jobs in both scenarios between 2010 and 2020, but strong growth in renewable energy jobs in the [R]evolution scenario leads to a net gain in employment. Growth in gas generation jobs in the Reference scenario is not sufficient to compensate for the losses in coal jobs.

Overall, jobs in the [R]evolution scenario jobs increase significantly from 9.3 million in 2010 to 10.5 million by 2020, and reach 11.3 million in 2030. By comparison, there is a global decrease in electricity sector jobs in the Reference scenario. Jobs fall from 9.1 million to 8.5 million by 2020, before climbing back to 8.6 million in 2030.

World jobs by technology and type in 2010, 2020, and 2030

World employment and electricity generation at 2010, 2020, and 2030

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

September 2009

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