Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green Energy Does Not Bode Well for All Sectors of the Economy

From the Dallas Morning News, a story about how Texas will fare as green energy sources assume more prominence in our nation's grid.

The short answer: Not well.

Texas's dominance in wind power notwithstanding, the state relies heavily on fossil-fuel jobs. According to the story (emphasis mine):
In 2008, the oil and gas industry contributed 16.5 percent of Texas' gross state product and employed 367,967 people, or 3.52 percent of the state's nonfarm jobs, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The renewable industry, according to data from 2007, employed about 18,427 people.
OK, so the jobs relationship isn't quite valid, because it compares 2008 numbers to 2007. And renewable-energy employment grew like crazy in 2008, especially in wind energy, where jobs rose 70%.

So let's be generous and say Texas renewable-energy jobs grew 100% in 2008. That would put the employment number at 36,854 instead of 18,427. That's still just 10% of oil and gas jobs.

It's going to be a long time before all those fossil-fuel jobs get replaced by ones in renewable energy. If they ever do.

Also, let's not forget cap-and-trade, which would force sources of greenhouse gases to buy carbon credits. Texas ranks number 1 for greenhouse gas emissions.

The outlook isn't too rosy right now. But new technologies and policies usually hurt some while helping others. It's the price of progress. In the long term, on a macro scale, everyone mostly benefits.

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