By the logic of cheerleaders for solar jobs, it would be a great thing if 100,000 dug a hole, and a tragedy if 100 engineers design and produce a high-end microchip. When studying jobs, the benchmark is what gets produced by how many people, or productivity, not how many people are employed. From Paul Dreissen at mises.org:
Citing U.S. Department of Energy data, the New York Times recently reported that the solar industry employs far more Americans than wind or coal: 374,000 in solar versus 100,000 in wind and 160,000 in coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Only the natural gas sector employs more people: 398,000 workers in gas production, electricity generation, home heating and petrochemicals.
This is supposed to be a good thing, according to the Times. It shows how important solar power has become in taking people out of unemployment lines and giving them productive jobs, the paper suggests.
Indeed, the article notes, California had the highest rate of solar power jobs per capita in 2016, thanks to its “robust renewable energy standards and installation incentives” (ie, mandates and subsidies).
In reality, it’s not a good thing at all, and certainly not a positive trend. In fact, as Climate Depot and the Washington Examiner point out — citing an American Enterprise Institute study — the job numbers actually underscore how wasteful, inefficient and unproductive solar power actually is.
That is glaringly obvious when you look at the amounts of energy produced per sector. (This tally does not include electricity generated by nuclear, hydroelectric and geothermal power plants.)
- 398,000 natural gas workers = 33.8% of all electricity generated in the United States in 2016
- 160,000 coal employees = 30.4 % of total electricity
- 100,000 wind employees = 5.6% of total electricity
- 374,000 solar workers = 0.9% of total electricity
It’s even more glaring when you look at the amount of electricity generated per worker. Coal generated an incredible 7,745 megawatt-hours of electricity per worker; natural gas 3,812 MWH per worker; wind a measly 836 MWH for every employee; and solar an abysmal 98 MWH per worker.
To continue reading: More Solar Jobs Is a Curse, Not a Blessing