Released on May 23, Missing the Bigger Picture: Tracking the Energy Revolution 2019 summarizes research commissioned by Clean Energy Canada and conducted by Navius Research. The report emphasizes the healthy growth of Canada’s clean energy sector – which employed 298,000 people in 2017, representing 2% of Canadian employment. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of clean energy jobs grew by 2.2% a year, economic value grew by 4.8% per year (compared to 3.6% for the economy as a whole), and investment in the sector went up by 70%. The 15-page report calls the clean energy sector “the mountain in our midst”, emphasizing that it includes many industries, all provinces, and defining it broadly as “companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution— whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.” The findings report includes “sector spotlights” for: electric vehicles, batteries and energy storage, wind power, and building control and HVAC systems.
The accompanying, 118-page report by Navius Consulting explains the methodology and presents the details of employment, economic value, and investment. Quantifying Canada’s Clean Energy Economy: An assessment of clean energy investment, value added and jobs ranks “Clean transport” as the largest employer, with 171,000 jobs in 2017 – 111,000 of those in transit. Jobs in renewable and alternative energy supply grew from 54,000 to 60,000 between 2010 and 2017. The report also states that the clean buildings sector employed only 19,000 people in 2017, mostly in green architecture and construction services.
Definitions are clearly important to this issue. The Navius technical report provides details about its definitions and methodology, including the use of the gTech energy economy model. This will no doubt be required reading in order to compare these findings with those of Energy Efficiency Employment in Canada, the April report from Eco Canada, which estimated that Canada’s energy efficiency goods and services sector directly employed an estimated 436,000 permanent workers in 2018 (summarized by WCR here ).
Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-carbon Technology is a new report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The report models energy demand by combining up-to-date solar PV and electric vehicle cost projections with climate policies based on the UNFCC Nationally Determined Contributions statements. The results are contrasted with the current “Business as Usual” scenarios of the major fossil fuel companies, and demonstrate how Big Oil underestimates the impact of solar and EV technologies. Expect the Unexpected forecasts peak oil and gas by 2020, with electric vehicles accounting for over two-thirds of the road transport market by 2050, and states that Solar PV “could supply 23% of global power generation in 2040 and 29% by 2050, entirely phasing out coal and leaving natural gas with just a 1% market share.”
The report and addresses the question, “What contribution can accelerated solar PV and EV penetration make to achieving a 2°C target?” It provides various scenarios, but concludes that decarbonisation of heavy industry (specifically iron and steel, cement, chemcials) will also be required and essential. On this front, the report states that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is unlikely to be financially viable in power generation, but “ In non-power sectors such as heavy industry, however, CCS is likely to have a much more important role because there are currently few viable low-carbon alternatives for achieving deep decarbonisation. Furthermore, if CO2 can be utilised in other industrial processes, this added value will serve to improve the viability of CCS.”
One such low-carbon alternative for cement production – albeit one which is still in development – is reported in a recent article by University of Victoria’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions . Based on the premise that most of the CO2 produced in cement manufacture is not in the kiln-heating process, but rather by the chemical reaction of turning limestone into quicklime, researchers at McGill University in Montreal have developed a building product called Carbicrete, which replaces Portland cement with steel slag (a waste product) as its main binding agent. Read details in “Solving the Thorny problem of Cement Emissions” (Feb. 1).
Use this link to view The Expect the Unexpected main report, a technical report, and an interactive dashboard allowing readers to manipulate elements of climate policy, technology price, and energy demand are available here.
Following on the January 2017 report US Energy and Employment from the U.S. Department of Energy, more evidence of the healthy growth of the clean energy industry comes in a report by the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps and Meister consultants. Now Hiring: The Growth of America’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Jobs compiles the latest statistics from diverse sources, and concludes that “sustainability” accounts for an estimated 4.5 million jobs (up from 3.4 million in 2011) in the U.S. in 2015. Sustainability jobs are defined as those in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as waste reduction, natural resources conservation and environmental education, vehicle manufacturing, public sector, and corporate sustainability jobs. Statistics drill down to wages and working conditions – for example, average wages for energy efficiency jobs are almost $5,000 above the national median, and wages for solar workers are above the national median of $17.04 per hour. Comparing clean energy with the fossil fuel industry, the report states that the 1.4 million jobs in energy efficiency construction and installation alone is more than double the number of workers in fossil fuel mining, extraction and electric power generation combined. Now Hiring states that for every $1 million invested in building retrofits and industrial efficiency, 8 direct or indirect jobs are created; in comparison, 3 are created by a comparable investment in the fossil fuel industry. This final comparison of job multiplier effect is based on “Green versus brown: Comparing the employment impacts of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and fossil fuels using an input-output model” by Heidi Garrett Pelletier at PERI, and appears in the February 2017 issue of Economic Modelling.