Is Renewable Energy Promoting net Creation of Jobs and GNP Growth in Europe?

Jean-Pierre SCHAEKEN WILLEMAERS, Chairman of the Energie and Climate Department of the Thomas More Institute

Septembre 2009

For many years, green employment has been one of the key expectations in Europe and more recently in the USA. The real question is whether promoting renewable energy resources (RES) impact positively on the net creation of jobs and whether in the long run the related incentives are the most efficient  way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Another issue concerns the justification of subsidizing massively RES in countries which are not able to develop a competitive export oriented industry. It appears indeed that only technological leaders will really benefit from RES incentives. However some of those countries like Spain which have initiated green investments early in the game, have to cut in their support schemes because of an excessive burden on their national budget.

The main objective of the European energy policy is securing the European energy future at competitive prices while curbing GHG emissions or as stated by the Commission: “an energy policy  for Europe combating climate change, limiting the EU’s external vulnerability to imported hydrocarbons and promoting growth and jobs”. It is all very well but is the target of promoting economic growth and jobs through green policy just wishful thinking or is there some substance in it? To what extent is it achievable? There are indeed uncertainties about the real contribution of renewables to employment and GNPs.