German jobs boom in renewable energy questioned

Jan 08, 2012 by Aurelia End
Hydrogen storage (L), biogas storage (R) and a wind turbine (back) are seen at a hybrid power plant in eastern Germany. Optimistic predictions that Germany's decision to turn its back on nuclear energy will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector have met with scepticism.

Optimistic predictions that Germany's decision to turn its back on nuclear energy will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector have met with scepticism.

While renewable lobbyists as well as the German government argue one of the upsides of Germany's planned abandonment of by 2022 will be a rosier employment picture, some experts are unconvinced.

Chancellor defended the so-called 'Energiewende,' the term used to describe both the end of nuclear power and the promotion of , on being asked about job losses.

"All in all, the new energy policy will create more jobs than will be lost," she told reporters last month after French nuclear giant Areva became the latest of several big energy companies to announce it was axing posts.

But the very same day also saw the first case in Germany of a solar panel manufacturer, Solon, announcing it was going into liquidation, threatening the loss of some 500 jobs.

The company, established in 1998, was the first victim of Germany's crisis-racked solar energy industry, hurting due to a cut in government subsidies and from foreign competition.

Since Berlin decided in March to permanently switch off Germany's eight oldest nuclear reactors and to close by 2022 nine others currently online, job loss announcements have mounted.

The government's surprise about-turn in its nuclear policy came in the wake of Japan's massive March 11 , the worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

Partly as a result, Germany's biggest power supplier, EON, plans to cut up to 11,000 jobs worldwide while its rival RWE will shed 8,000, according to press reports.

An electrician checks solar panels at a not yet working photovoltaic plant near Munich. Optimistic predictions that Germany's decision to turn its back on nuclear energy will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector have met with scepticism.

Both groups however also face profitability problems with their gas- and coal-fired plants as well as with subsidiaries abroad while restructuring by France's Areva will cost at least 1,200 jobs at its German subsidiary.

Opponents of nuclear energy respond to such bleak predictions by pointing to the huge potential for new jobs in renewable energy.

Given that the sector in Germany is still relatively immature, lobbyists from the renewable energy association predict its workforce will swell to 500,000 as a result of the policy change.

DIW economic research institute eyes up to one million jobs, while the government puts the figure at 400,000 by 2020 compared to 300,000 in 2009.

"Just for show," Manuel Frondel, a researcher at RWI institute, said dismissively, arguing the figures did not take into account jobs lost because of the shift to renewable energy.

"Renewable energies demand a lot of capital but less manpower" than conventional energy sources, he said.

Hundreds of personnel are needed for the operation of a nuclear or coal-powered plant, while very few are required for the running of a wind or solar park.

A pump serving alternative E10 fuel at a petrol station in Bremerhaven. Optimistic predictions that Germany's decision to turn its back on nuclear energy will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector have met with scepticism.

Frondel in particular points the finger at "blatant (political) mistakes" in the solar energy sector.

While the installation of solar panels in Germany has jumped in recent years, it is down to a subsidy system financed through levying a surcharge on consumers' energy bills, he said.

At the same time, the system has proved particularly beneficial for Asian producers of solar panels which are less costly than those produced in Germany.

"Every job (in Germany) in the solar (sector) costs 250,000 euros ($318,000)" to electricity consumers, meaning they are "doomed" or already lost jobs, Frondel commented.

According to a study last year by Stuttgart University's Institute for Energy Industry and Efficient Energy Use, the end of nuclear energy by 2022 will have a limited negative impact on jobs in the short term.

"But by 2025 job losses of about 185,000 people will be recorded here too," it said.

Additionally some research institutes believe the expected rise in the cost of electricity in Germany will hold back growth and neutralise in the short term any employment benefits reaped from the move to .

One recent example underscores their fears -- German company SGL Carbon announced it would build a carbon fibre factory in the United States rather than in Germany since electricity there is cheaper.

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Callippo
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2012
This is just a problem of cold fusion too. It can make the energy production, transport and storage a much easier and cheaper, but it will reduce the jobs positions of many people involved in alternative ways of energy production, transport and storage. Therefore the obstinate negativism of cold fusion is not result of some energetic lobby, but all the scientists and technicians, who are engaged in development of coal and oil mining, in its transport, in the development of solar cells, biofermentors and wind plants, the development of batteries and WIFI energy transfer, and so on.. All these people will become useless - no wonder, they're all hostile toward the cold fusion as a single man.

As we can see, the implementation of new technologies in human society can be just as fast, as fast the jobs positions released in this way could be transformed into another areas of technology and research. It indeed introduces a distributed inertia and conservatism into their applications.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2012
Just compare it with Higgs boson or gravitational waves research, which are useless for human society - nevertheless they've strong medial support, just because they consume the huge amount of resources and jobs positions, so they're welcomed not only with scientists and theorists (which would lose their jobs otherwise), but with influential lobby of private companies, which are participating in this research too with various technical contracts. It's the huge power of anonymous people, which is driving the social preference of these things.

The tragic consequence of this inertia is, many people would rather accept the global war for the fossil fuel forces (because such war doesn't threat their jobs positions and salary in straightforward way) rather than support the research and implementation of alternative energy sources (where their threat is straightforward and apparent). Such people will not care about destiny of civilization as a whole, if it could threat their private destiny.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2012
There is a common feature of social psychology, the people could admit even the great lost and starvation under situation, when other people will suffer with such starvation too. But they get depressed fast, if they face the lost of income and social credit at individual basis. This effect is analogous to the slow boiling frog anecdote: http://en.wikiped...ing_frog

In AWT we are living in gradient driven reality (inside of dense gas the individual particles aren't observable, only the density gradients of these particles.) Inside of gradient driven reality the people cannot determine and judge the impact of changes reliably, if they're of sufficiently distributed nature, so they don't produce any perceptible gradients. I'm using more advanced theory, so I'm able to see and predict the hidden risks of this approach.
jabailo
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2012
The effect of hydrogen-solar could be a complete de-industrialization of 20th century technologies...requiring infrastructure that is much simpler and smaller. This is a good thing as it will provide maximum leisure.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2012
The government's surprise about-turn in its nuclear policy came in the wake of Japan's massive March 11 Fukushima nuclear disaster,

This is a completely misleading sentence.

That all nuclear energy reactors would be shut down by 2030 or thereabouts had already been decided in 1986 (after Chernobyl). Only 3 months before the meltdown in Japan had the conservative government under Merkel decided to overturn this resolution (THIS was the surprise about turn - NOT the one towards alternative energy sources).

Naturally this decision didn't go down well when Fukushima happened so she hastily reversed it before her paty's polls slipped even more than they did shortly after the incident.

So saying that Merkel is responsible for the changeover is entirely wrong. If she and her industry handlers had had their way then germany would be building nuclear reactors right now.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2012
Hundreds of personnel are needed for the operation of a nuclear or coal-powered plant, while very few are required for the running of a wind or solar park.

And this is bad exactly how? Cheap energy is what the industry needs.

What they're afraid of is that alternative energy plants actually can be handled by small, agile companies (installation, maintenance, etc. ) - which certainly will cut into the profuts of the CEOs at big business companies.

Add to that that this experties will be something sought after the world over once other countries realize the true price of sticking with conventional/nuclear - and you have a job boom in the making.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2012
Have another take on renewable energies for my ancestral homeland, Germany. I know that Germany, like Japan, has a high population density. Like Japan again, Die Vaterland has a huge amount of land tied up in mountains, urban areas, tourist areas that are protected, and intensive farming areas. This leaves little available land for energy production.
Again like Japan, Germany is resource poor except for coal which Japan does not have. So all Germany has is an energy plant in place, nuclear, that is compact and safe. Germany is going to abandon this. See next post for how Germany will be the newest third world nation, its people poor as church mice......

Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2012
Continuation:
Germany has another problem with solar, weather! It is cloudy much of the year, and cold, and rainy, and SNOWY! As far as panels, the Chinese lead the world now after much effort and development of efficient panels...and new plant construction! They lead the world in panels, and their cheap slave labor and the predatory pricing that slaves make possible is driving out competition all over the world. SO NO JOBS IN PANEL PRODUCTION! North African countries, well heeled, are starting solar farms of their own in the Sahara Desert, the best and most efficient solar areas in the world, close enough to Europe to efficiently export power to all Europe and drive out inefficient European solar production. SO NO JOBS IN SOLAR FARMS! Turning off nukes will leave a energy supply hole fillable only by expensive exports, eventually draining domestic capital, shredding safety nets, and guaranteeing a huge depression. SO UNEMPLOYMENT WILL GROW TO LEVELS UNSEEN SINCE WORLD WAR I!
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2012
Turning off nuclear in Germany will leave only coal and gas and petroleum fired boilers for energy production. There IS significant domestic coal reserves, but the same saboteurs that shut down nuclear will then descend on coal, driving the electoral sheep that the German voters have become to turn it off as well. That leaves only imported energy. This fact will not be lost on Germany's external suppliers who will increase the price rapidly. In fact the German economy will be like water on a roof. Rapidly rising energy costs, and outright shortages cut the value of the German worker. The resulting mass unemployment cuts tax revenue leading to service cuts. As the energy costs rise without limit..(rain on the roof), the economy strains and breaks (the roof ponding). Even hyperinflation can and may well happen, just like in the Weimar times. Poor people become desperate when starving in the dark. A new Hitler and Goebbels will not have a hard time finding who to blame.. and kill.
Hephaestus
not rated yet Jan 10, 2012
What is funny is how cheap local energy production is going to get over the next 10 years. So cheap in fact that the power grid will become unsustainable financially and big energy will collapse. It will actually be a great time to be alive. Almost unlimited energy means unlimited potential.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2012
I'd froze the building of nuclear plants under perspective of cold fusion in my country too. After few years it would be money thrown out of window - and I'm sure, the German government is realizing it too. In addition, modern technologies are power effective, so we needn't more energy anyway. But it's true, the Germans are using the East Europe as a cheap battery, because the renewable energy sources tend to be unreliable.
AIDCO
not rated yet Feb 05, 2012
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