Alternative Energy – Where Are the Jobs?

As alternative energy moves to the forefront of the energy policy debate, the fight over whose energy preferences will be implemented has begun.

In Florida, two “brands” of alternative energy – biomass and solar – are vying to become a part of Florida’s energy future. The City of Gainesville is building a 100MW biomass plant and Florida Power and Light is completing the construction of 110 MW’s of solar power.

It looks as though the winner will be the one who can convince politicians and the public that their brand of energy provides the most jobs – but is that total jobs or local jobs?

The research on job statistics for solar power reveals that different organizations give different numbers. One statistic that was consistent was that 80% of the cost of solar is for the manufacturing of the panels.

This indicates, that for solar, if you do not have a local manufacture of panels – few locales do – then a large portion of the cost of solar will be leaving the community.

Listed below is a chart that shows the number of ongoing jobs, the $/kwh, the location of the construction and manufacturing (C&M), and the location of the fuel source.

Data for a 50 MW Power Plant

Energy Source Ongoing Local Jobs $/KWH C&M Fuel Source
Gas 8 .12-.15 Local Out of State
Bio-Mass 22 .08-.10 Local Local
Solar 18 .20-.30 Out of State N/A

Two components missing from the above table is the environmental impact of the energy source and the jobs associated with fuel source. Solar has the lowest environmental impact, followed by biomass and then gas.

Only biomass has a local jobs component for fuel source. The estimate for 100 MW plant could be as many as 100 jobs.

Based on the above information, you can prioritize the components based on your preferences and determine your fuel source of choice.

For example, a cost conscious environmentalist would choose biomass and an ardent environmentalist would choose solar.

2 Responses to "Alternative Energy – Where Are the Jobs?"

  1. “it really smacks of an agenda.” Bob As you and I know very well all of us Special Interest People and Groups Have an Agenda. But Bob I would think the writers of this blog would like to have a diversity of opinions, if they are backed up with facts. Later ,JPB

  2. This is a gross oversimplication. There is so much more to this issue than you have laid out here that this “information” is not only inadequate as a guide to a decision, it really smacks of an agenda.

    Incidentally, there are no “cost conscious” environmentalist and all environmentalists are, by definition, “ardent”.

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