EU 20% Renewable Energy Target Can Deliver 2.8 Million Jobs

by | Jun 8, 2009

eu-chartReaching the 20 percent renewable energy source (RES) target in 2020 is expected to deliver approximately 2.8 million jobs in the renewable energy sector and generate about 1.1 percent of European GDP, according to a new European Commission study.

“This shows that benefits of renewables in terms of security of supply and fighting climate change can go hand in hand with economic benefits,” stated Andris Piebalgs, EU energy commissioner.

The European Commission’s study on the impact of renewable energy policy on economic growth and employment in the European Union (Employ-RES) indicate that biomass, wind and hydro technologies are currently the most important for job opportunities.

According to the study, in 2005, the renewable energy sector employed 1.4 million people among the member states with a gross value of 58 billion EUR (approximately $80 billion) with higher employment expected particularly in the member states that joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 and 2007. Implementation of the renewable energy policy will generate about 410,000 additional jobs and 0.24 percent additional GDP in the EU-27 in 2020.

However, the study indicates that current RES support policies will result in final energy consumption of 14 percent by 2020 and 17 percent by 2030, which indicates a need for improved policies to reap maximum economic benefits from renewable energy. The study also finds that more innovative technologies such as photovoltaic, offshore wind, solar thermal electricity and second-generation biofuels require more financial support in the short term, and will be key to achieving the EU’s 2020 target.

According to a recent report on concentrated solar power (CSP) from Greenpeace International, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA) and IEA SolarPACES, investments of $14.4 billion in 2010 and increasing to about $128.5 billion in 2050 by countries with the most sun resources could create more than 200,000 jobs by 2020, and about 1.187 million in 2050, and save 148 million tons of CO2 annually in 2020, rising to 2.1 billion tons in 2050. CSP could also meet up to 7 percent of the world’s power needs by 2030 and 25 percent by 2050.

In terms of greenhouse emissions, European finance ministers may draw on shipping and airlines for money to help pay poor nations deal with climate change, according to draft proposals, report Reuters. EU finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg on June 9 are expected to identify possible finance sources for poor countries that could help develop drought-resistant crops or new water sources, according to Reuters.

Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and airline sectors, which have been growing steadily over the past 15 years, will be evaluated at a United Nations meeting in Copenhagen in December to find a new global deal on fighting climate change, according to Reuters. The key issue will be finding the finance needed to persuade developing nations to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. However, poor nations would be expected to deliver concrete proof of emissions cuts in return for the cash, reports Reuters.

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