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New Report Shows That with the Right Policies, Solar Can Boost Economies


A recent econValue report outlines how, with the right policies and framework in place, renewables could increase jobs and incomes, improve trade balances, and help industrial development. The report shows the economic value of renewables through analyzing the effects of solar and wind on the environment, economy, and society.

With the new carbon regulations in place, scenerios of inevitable job loss and economic disaster abound. But a new econValue report shows that this transition offers a whole new set of opportunities to boost the economy and benefit communities.

The report, econValue – The Socio-economic Benefits of Solar and Wind Energy, lays out what policies and framework are needed to allow renewables to reach their full potential. The report was produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that helps countries transition to clean energy, and released by The Clean Energy Ministerial’s Multilateral Solar and Wind Working group, which works to lower the costs of solar and wind energy.

The report studies how solar and wind energy affect the environment, economy, and society by analyzing “macroeconomic variables.” These variables include value added, gross domestic product, welfare, and jobs created at each stage of installing and maintaining renewable energy projects. It details for policymakers how they could take advantage of various economic opportunities that may be offered by solar and wind sector development. It shows how policies could help build domestic industry through investment, technology transfer, strengthening firm-level capabilities, and promoting education, training, research, and innovation.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Admin said in a statement, “As many economies are still recovering from the global financial crisis, renewable energy offers an opportunity to grow economies, improve energy security, enhance energy access, and mitigate climate change. Policy makers around the world are exploring ways to stimulate social and economic growth through the renewable energy sector, and this report is an important step to support them on this path.”

The report was put out before the EPA’s proposal for reducing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels (meaning we’re already almost halfway there!). This means that policy-wise, we’re already seeing a step in the right direction. One of the often-repeated arguments against the EPA’s proposal is that it will destroy the economy, especially in coal-intensive states (some may even say that it will be “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class” — and by “some” I mean Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)), but this has been thoroughly disproven. Yes, jobs in coal will most likely be lost, but that will be more than offset by the jobs created by clean energy sectors. Improved health also has economic benefits, and consumers will eventually be spending less on energy due to less demand on the grid.

The econValue report includes other potential policies and regulations that would lead to a boost in the economy. Even before the EPA analysis, which confirmed the findings of the report, those findings wouldn’t have been a shocker to those in the know. Better yet, the potential of clean energy to create a better economy has only begun to be tapped.

Aya Elizabeth Kusch's picture

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Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on Jun 17, 2014 9:35 am GMT

Ultimately, the effect on prosperity of any energy project is contained in its ability to provide energy services at low cost, all things being equal. We can drive ourselves nuts while imagining reasons why more expensive energy sources (i.e. renewables) are nevertheless going to result in more or better jobs and more wealth, but at the end of the day, are we being reasonable? Are we living up to standards of due diligence and objective analysis? Are we being honest to the public who is footing the bill? Or are we trying to have our cake and eat it too? 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jun 17, 2014 12:56 pm GMT

These conclusions are in line with German study reports regarding the Energiewende results.
Those report that the Energiewende delivered (and deliver) an essential contribution to the German economy.

German economy did much better than any other economy in the EU during the past 6 years in which the Energiewende took full steam; share of renewable electricity grew from 13% towards 25%.
Important factor; the ~ half million jobs that the Energiewende created (= a lot in an economy with 80million people).

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