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Green Energy Jobs

By Alex Epstein

Joe Biden's energy plan would shift us from energy production that is low-cost, high-reliability, and America-centered to energy production that is high-cost, low-reliability, and China-centered.

This would destroy, not create, millions of well-paying American jobs.

Quick Summary

  • Joe Biden says that his policies to eliminate US CO2 emissions through a largely solar- and wind-based energy system will create millions of well-paying "green jobs"--far more than will be destroyed in the fossil fuel industry.

    This is impossible.1

  • A largely solar-and wind-based energy system will necessarily destroy far more well-paying US jobs than it creates because the "green jobs" will be 1) far less productive, 2) largely in China, and 3) cause job losses in other industries via skyrocketing energy prices.2
  • Reason #1 why Biden's energy policies will destroy productive US jobs: "green jobs" are far less productive than the fossil fuel jobs that Biden is destroying--so they cannot possibly pay as well.
  • The only way well-paying jobs are sustainable in the long-term is if they are highly productive. For example, the reason US oil-and-gas extractions jobs pay very well is that they produce an average of $2 million per worker annually. Nothing in wind or solar can compare.3
  • Workers involved in generating electricity from natural gas and coal produce *9 times more electricity per person* than workers generating electricity from wind and solar. And the fossil fuel electricity, unlike solar and wind, is highly reliable.4
  • Reason #2 why Biden's energy policies will destroy productive US jobs: "green jobs" mostly exist in China, which has a huge competitive advantage in mining, processing, and manufacturing.
  • The main jobs involved in solar and wind energy are mining jobs (to get the raw materials), processing jobs (to transform the raw materials into valuable form) and manufacturing jobs (to make solar panels and wind turbine components). Those jobs exist largely in China.5
  • China's dominance of "green energy" is due to a combination of vices (low environmental standards, human rights abuses) and virtues (lower energy costs, valuing mining and manufacturing). The anti-mining, anti-fossil fuel Biden administration will make us even less competitive.
  • Consider Tesla's "green jobs" debacle in Buffalo. Tesla got almost $1 billion plus artificially low electricity rates (at other customers' expense) in exchange for a promise of 1460 jobs--that's over $650,000 a job! This kind of welfare work is totally unsustainable.6
  • Reason #3 why Biden's energy policies will destroy productive US jobs: by making American energy unaffordable and unreliable, it will destroy American industry and with it, American jobs.
  • The biggest cost of "green jobs" is unaffordable and unreliable energy. Because unreliable solar and wind can't replace our reliable power plants, they always add costs to the grid. And if we try, like CA and TX, to cut costs by closing reliable power plants, we get blackouts.7
  • Germany, which gets 1/3 of its electricity from solar and wind, provides a mild preview of the Biden Plan. Germans have seen their electricity prices double in 20 years thanks to wasteful, unreliable solar and wind. Their electricity prices are 3X our already-too-high prices.8
  • By driving up industrial energy costs, Biden's "green energy jobs" will make every American-made product more expensive and every American company less competitive. That means more productive jobs lost to other countries where energy costs less and is more reliable.
  • For a preview of what Biden's "green energy jobs" will do to American industry, consider rising "green joblessness" in Europe and Australia. Like the workers at the Australian recycling company that, after 37 profitable years, went under when "green" policies doubled power costs.9
  • Biden's policies, by shifting us from productive, America-centered energy production to unproductive, China-centered energy production, would be the largest destroyer of productive jobs in American history. It's not a "green jobs" policy, it's a "green joblessness" policy.

Q: Won’t Joe Biden’s energy plan create enough “green energy jobs” to offset millions of lost jobs in the fossil fuel industry?

A: No. By making energy unreliable and unaffordable for every American industry, the Biden Plan would create mass "green joblessness."

  • "Creating jobs" is only a good thing if those jobs are productive jobs. If the government pays people to produce inferior products and services or pays people to produce inefficiently, that is "welfare work" that hurts American consumers and American competitiveness.
  • Many of the jobs created by the Biden Plan would involve building new, unreliable solar and wind infrastructure.10 This infrastructure can't replace our reliable power plants--it will just add a lot of new costs that consumers and industry have to pay. Classic welfare work.11
  • By driving up consumer energy costs, Biden's "green energy jobs" will make every American's real income go down because they will have to spend far more to heat and power their homes and to drive their cars.
  • Solar and wind have already increased US "energy poverty"--when people experience hardship paying for their basic energy needs. 25 million US households say they've gone without food or medicine to pay for energy. 12 million say they’ve kept their home at an unsafe temperature.12
  • Germany, which gets 1/3 of its electricity from solar and wind13, provides a mild preview of the Biden Plan. Germans have seen their electricity prices double in 20 years thanks to wasteful, unreliable solar and wind. Their electricity prices are 3X our already-too-high prices.14
  • By driving up industrial energy costs, Biden's "green energy jobs" will make every American-made product more expensive and every American company less competitive. That means more productive jobs lost to other countries where energy is more reliable and costs less.
  • For a preview of what Biden's "green energy jobs" will do to American industry, consider rising "green joblessness" in Europe and Australia. Like the workers at the Australian recycling company that, after 37 profitable years, went under when "green" policies doubled power costs.15
  • Biden's "green energy jobs" will cause "green joblessness" throughout the economy, with those connected to the fossil fuel industry being hardest hit. The Global Energy Institute estimates that a fracking ban alone "would eliminate 19 million jobs."16
  • While Biden now says he doesn't support a fracking ban, he supports a "transition" away from all fossil fuels that would be far wider than a fracking ban.17 That means far more productive jobs lost than the Global Energy Institute's 19 million estimate for a fracking ban.
  • Summary: Biden's energy plan will create a handful of unproductive "green energy jobs" that, by making American energy unreliable and unaffordable, will cause mass "green joblessness" in not just the fossil fuel industry but in every energy-intensive industry.

References


  1. China’s primary energy consumption from coal, oil, and natural gas was over 85% of the total in 2019.
    BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020

    China has a tight grip on many critical minerals in the rare earth category, controlling the mining of a large share and processing of close to 100% of them.
    Power Hour - Maxwell Goldberg on Our Dangerous Material Dependence on China
    Investingnews.com - 10 Top Countries for Rare Earth Metal Production
    Defensenews.com - The collapse of American rare earth mining — and lessons learned

  2. Talking Points on Joe Biden's Energy Plan

  3. Institute for Energy Research - A Net-Zero Economy Puts Jobs at Risk
    The objective Standard - Per-Worker Productivity Compared: Fossil Fuels versus Wind and Solar
    Talking Points on California Blackouts

    A common experience among early adopters of solar and wind is increasing prices for electricity. German electricity prices more than doubled over the last two decades to over 0.3€ per kWh ($0.35 per kWh depending on currency exchange rate) when they started to rapidly rise their share of solar and wind in electricity generation to over ⅓.

    Public generation of electricity was over 518 terawatt-hours in Germany for 2019, solar and wind combined generated over 173 terawatt-hours (33.4%).
    Fraunhofer ISE energy-charts.de
    BDEW Strompreisanalyse Jan 2021 p. 7

    The average US household price in 2019 was $0.1301 per kWh.U.S. Energy Information Administration Electric Power Annual table 5a

  4. In 2019 the US oil and gas extraction industry employed over 143,000 people (12 month arithmetic average) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Industries at a Glance, Oil and Gas Extraction: NAICS 211

    This workforce produced an estimated 4.49 billion bbl of oil and condensate and 40,892,458 million cf of natural gas in 2019.
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - Crude Oil plus Lease Condensate Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production

    At an average price of $40 per bbl and $3 per Mcf, the oil had a market value of $179 billion and the gas had a market value of $122 billion.
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - Petroleum and Other Liquids, Spot Prices
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - Natural Gas Prices

  5. The objective Standard - Per-Worker Productivity Compared: Fossil Fuels versus Wind and Solar

  6. Mark P. Mills - If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig
    Mark P. Mills - Green Energy’s Overseas Dependence

    In 2019 more than 8 times as much solar PV module capacity was imported as manufactured in the US. Most of the US imports come from Southeast Asia and China has a tight grip on key mineral production, refining, and across the supply chains of components.U.S. Energy Information Administration - Annual Solar Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - U.S. imports of solar photovoltaic modules mainly come from Asia

    The Buffalo News - Tesla's Buffalo plant gets $884 million write-down

    New York state has an average industrial electricity rate of 5.61 cents per kWh, 17.6% lower than the US average for states because of its cross-subsidized ReCharge program. All other sector rates in NY are significantly higher than US average.
    ReCharge NY
    Politico - For some users, cheap electricity in high-priced New York
    U.S. energy Information Administration - Electric Power Annual

  7. Energy Talking Points on Texas Electricity Crisis

    Talking Points on California Blackouts

  8. German electricity prices more than doubled over the last two decades to over 0.3€ per kWh ($0.35 per kWh depending on currency exchange rate) when they started to rapidly rise their share of solar and wind in electricity generation to over ⅓.
    Public generation of electricity was over 518 terawatt-hours in Germany for 2019, solar and wind combined generated over 173 terawatt-hours (33.4%).
    Fraunhofer ISE energy-charts.de
    BDEW Strompreisanalyse Jan 2021 p. 7

  9. “Plastics Granulating Services (PGS), based in Kilburn in Adelaide's inner-north, said it had seen its monthly power bills increase from $80,000 to $180,000 over the past 18 months.”
    ABC News Australia - SA plastics recycling business closes due to $100k hike in power bills

  10. “Together, these steps will unleash a clean energy revolution in America, create good paying union jobs that cannot be outsourced, and spur the installation of millions of solar panels – including utility-scale, rooftop, and community solar systems – and tens of thousands of wind turbines – including thousands of turbines off our coasts – in Biden’s first term.”
    The Biden Plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future

  11. “...we find that electricity prices are 11% higher seven years after RPS passage, largely due to indirect grid integration costs (e.g., transmission and intermittency).”
    Michael Greenstone and Ishan Nath - Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver Cost-Effective Carbon Abatement?

    Steffen Henne - How bad are solar and wind?

  12. Talking Points on Energy Poverty

  13. Solar and wind provided 33.6% of German net electricity generation in 2019.
    Fraunhofer ISE energy-charts.info

  14. German household electricity prices have more than doubled to over 0.3€ per kWh ($0.35 per kWh depending on currency exchange rate) since 2000 when the modern renewable energy law started to massively incentivize solar and wind capacity on the German grid.
    BDEW Strompreisanalyse July 2020 p. 7

    The average US household price in 2019 was $0.1301 per kWh.
    U.S. Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Annual table 5a

  15. Plastics Granulating Services (PGS), based in Kilburn in Adelaide's inner-north, said it had seen its monthly power bills increase from $80,000 to $180,000 over the past 18 months.” ABC News Australia - SA plastics recycling business closes due to $100k hike in power bills

  16. Global Energy Institute - What if... Hydraulic Fracturing was Banned? (2020 Edition)

  17. Talking Points on Joe Biden's Energy Plan