Promoting green jobs isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s a global pastime. And no wonder: for a politician, there are few things better than promising clean, renewable domestic energy and job creation to boot. But talk is cheap, and just as this dream hasn’t been realized in the states, it’s also falling short in Britain. The FT reports:
The so-called “green jobs” boom in renewable energy has not lived up to the hype. As government policy flip-flops in favour of one form of energy to another – one minute offshore wind, the next minute, fracking – investors are losing faith.In March, SSE, the big energy company, announced a freeze to its bills until 2016, at the expense of 500 jobs and its involvement with several offshore wind parks. In the past year too, the second phase of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, was scrapped; energy group RWE ditched its Atlantic Array and Scottish Power Renewables dropped plans for an Argyll Array.Global investment in clean energy fell 12 per cent in 2013 according to Bloomberg.
There’s a reason renewables aren’t taking the world by storm: they can’t compete with fossil fuels. Government subsidies and feed-in tariffs can help prop up the current generations of solar panels and wind turbines, but that doesn’t affect the underlying calculus. Green energy costs more, and that puts a very real limit on its deployment.Instead of chasing the green jobs chimera, hoping to deploy more panels and turbines today, we’d be much better served investing in the research into and development of green technologies capable of competing with coal and natural gas on their own merits. It’s not as sexy, but it could actually work.