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Where Did Ed’s Green Jobs Go?

January 26, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Martin Brumby  




We often hear that hundreds of thousands of new green jobs are being created. In 2009, Ed Miliband promised that the “green revolution” would 400,000 jobs, of which 160,000 would be created by the expansion of renewables. He even promised in 2014 that his plans to take all of the carbon out of our energy by 2030 would create a million new green jobs by 2030.

Four years later, Ed Davey was declaring that renewable energy would support up to 200,000 jobs.  


The reality is rather more underwhelming!


Last March, the Dept for Business published their report on the UK’s Low Carbon Economy. Although it claims 269,000 jobs, many of these are not related to renewable energy at all. For instance, 53,000 are in recycling. Another 30,000 work in the insulation/double glazing sectors. In other words, jobs that have existed for many years, and have nothing to do with renewable energy or decarbonisation policies.

They even include 37,000 in nuclear energy.

When we get down to the nitty gritty, the real numbers are much lower: 


  Direct Employment
Onshore Wind 11000
Offshore Wind 7900
Solar 20300
Biomass 12500
TOTAL 51700



Now, I would not want to decry 51000 jobs. They matter to the people who actually do them. But the reality is that most of these are not even new jobs.

According to the report, employment in these sectors has only increased by 24200 between 2010 and 2013, and this even includes indirect employment in the supply chain, (a figure which is guesstimated).

Given the number of jobs lost, directly and indirectly, because of the government’s climate agenda, this is hardly a cause for celebration.




The full report is here.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    January 26, 2016 6:44 pm

    Two weeks ago, the Grauniad proudly proclaimed “US solar industry now employs more workers than oil and gas, says report”

    (Not so) strangely, it fails to mention that that according to the US Energy Information Administration, that same number of US oil & gas workers produce 725x as much energy. Energy that’s available 24/7.

  2. January 26, 2016 7:07 pm

    And subtract from that the number of existing jobs lost by the increase in energy prices

  3. January 26, 2016 7:14 pm

    Politicians tell lies and the current bunch more than most, so this is not unexpected.
    I speak as an erstwhile Conservative supporter but I wouldn’t believe a word they say on any topic any more.
    Of course, Ed Davey is a LIberal Democrat, so he is probably not entirely to blame.

  4. marchesarosa permalink
    January 26, 2016 7:28 pm

    …the Grauniad proudly proclaimed “US solar industry now employs more workers than oil and gas, says report”

    Or put another way, the US solar industry employes as many people as the entire coal mining, coal transportation and coal generation sectors of the USA. Whereas the amount of electricity produced by the solar workforce is tiny, the same size workforce employed in coal generates a massive proportion of the US’s electricity.

    Output per man, anyone?

  5. marchesarosa permalink
    January 26, 2016 7:44 pm

    Here are the details:

    There are approximately 174,000 blue-collar, full-time, permanent jobs related to coal in the U.S.: mining (83,000), transportation (31,000), and power plant employment (60,000). (See below for details on each sector.) The U.S. civilian labor force totaled 141,730,000 workers in 2005; thus, permanent blue-collar coal industry employees represent 0.12% of the U.S. workforce.[1] (Compare this percentage with the 1.89% of U.S. workers who worked in coal mining alone in 1920.)

    So, a considerable improvement in productivity in coal since 1920! Who knew?

    According to Singh & Fehrs’ 2001 analysis of Energy Information Administration data, the average coal-fired power plant – per megawatt of peak capacity – employs 0.18 people in operations & maintenance on a permanent basis.[12] Thus, the average 300 MW coal-fired power plant would employ 54 people in operation & maintenance on an ongoing basis. This corresponds closely with the Energy Information Administration’s assessment that, in 1997, the average 300 MW coal-fired power plant had 53 employees

    According to The Solar Foundation, there are now nearly 174,000 solar workers in the U.S., a more than 20% increase over employment totals in 2014. These workers are employed at 6,100 businesses in every state.

    In 2013, energy sources and percent share of total electricity generation in the USA were

    Coal 39%
    Natural Gas 27%
    Nuclear 19%
    Hydropower 7%
    Other Renewable 6%
    Biomass 1.48%
    Geothermal 0.41%
    Solar 0.23%
    Wind 4.13%
    Petroleum 1%
    Other Gases < 1%

    Yes,I know the figures are a little out of date, but nevertheless, in terms of productivity there is nothing to boast about in having so many people employed in the solar industry in the USA. It demonstrates a scandalously low level of electricity output per man.

    • January 27, 2016 1:31 pm

      I may be wrong but I thought the figures we were talking about were in the UK.

  6. Graeme No.3 permalink
    January 26, 2016 8:02 pm

    Perhaps the Government should explain that the missing jobs are at the bottom of the ocean.

  7. January 26, 2016 8:52 pm

    A long time ago I became interested in the new renewables market as a way of growing my business. So I did some market research – very simple stuff – just phoning everyone who had an interest to see what kind of product development they were planning.

    I was absolutely horrified to find not a single CURRENT UK company saw any potential from the scheme and it was very obvious all the benefit would flow to foreign companies.

    When I tried to talk to politicians, civil servants and ministers – I was told I was talking rubbish as they constantly repeated the UK wind lies about 45,000 jobs from wind.

    Later I looked at trying to set up a UK based servicing company and went to Denmark to see if I could tie in with some smaller companies there. What I found was that the turbines were computer controlled and only the original seller had the master key to access it. So, again there was absolutely no prospect of a UK based company.

    In other words, the whole scam was pushed by money grabbing developers (who are nothing but glorified estate agents) and foreign wind companies who bring over their own staff to do installations and maintenance.

    To put it in perspective – I used to go to the UK “all-energies” exhibition in Aberdeen. My final year I counted the number of UK engineering companies – there were THREE.

    By chance I happened to go to Hanover to the German equivalent. There were also three – but that three was THREE EXHIBITION HALLS FULL of German/Danish engineering companies.

    I described it as “seeing the invasion fleet before WWII” -the Europeans used to laugh at us in the UK for taking such shit from our politicians.

    • Brian H permalink
      January 27, 2016 12:52 am

      Pols and greens are going to be shocked –shocked– at how many firms and agencies are going to decline to shovel money into the pits prepared for them.

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 27, 2016 2:59 am

    Green-jobs are as hard to count as Unicorns. For example, if a city bus is converted to run on bio-fuel or via a battery – does the driver then have a green job? Apparently some places do count such, others not. (I would not.)
    In some places hydro-power is not counted as green (renewable) because to do so would meet any reasonable green-requirement and wind and solar would never be needed. (Follow the money.)
    When Drax burned coal the workers were not green. Are they classed that way now when wood is burned?
    No one has answers to all such questions so any claim of green-jobs has to be approached with the caution one would approach a Skunk.

  9. Pathway permalink
    January 27, 2016 3:44 am

    Prior to the recent downturn in the O&G market here in the US, 70% of all new full time jobs were created by drilling for oil and gas. A look at Spain’s green revolution shows that for every 1 green job created, two other jobs were destroyed.

  10. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    January 27, 2016 8:23 am

    About 2 years ago I was helping a friend in S. Shropshire with his IT/website. He suddenly added Solar to this Double Glazing business. Full of confidence about the solar business with all the area farmers. He had great difficulty with that and constantly complained about staff churn and costly certification. He thought as simple as slamming glazing into walls.

    Everyone and their dog jumped into that game, so a year later he abandoned it all.

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