Going green, in this case, going for more renewable energy sources to dominate our energy mix has its rewards. Coal, as we have been discussing, is harmful to our environment, as well as health. Sourcing energy from renewables would lead to savings from medical expenses.
Aside from the environment and health-related benefits, there is one advantage of going renewables, an outcome that can help the lives of impoverished families And this is the focus of GreenPeace Philippines report, “Green is Gold: How Renewable Energy can save us money and generate jobs.” Renewable energy development generates employment. The report cited the example of Europe where the renewable energy sector employs some 650,000 individuals. The RE sector in Germany alone has roughly 370,000 jobs. Data from the German Renewable Energies Agencies stressed that there are more employment available in solar energy than nuclear and coal energy combined. Likewise, in Spain, its RE industry has already provided close to 89,000 direct jobs.
In its report, GreenPeace stressed that solar power could generate the highest number of employment. Research by the University of California, Berkeley pointed out that “photovoltaic technology produces more jobs per unit of electricity than any other energy source. Most of the jobs are in construction and installation of solar facilities and can’t be outsourced to other countries.” A good example would be the solar power business in Japan, where some 9,800 jobs were generated after completing the installation of a total of 360 MWp (megawatt peak) of PV power.
And it’s not just solar power that can provide employment. The study also showed that other RE sources could provide a great number of employment, too. For example, a typical wind farm generating 250 MW can generate 1079 direct jobs–jobs in the manufacturing, construction, maintenance and operation of power plants– during the installation phase alone. Naturally, indirect jobs are created as well.
On the other hand, job generation figures of geothermal power are impressive, too. A Philippine company that generates some 1,189 MW of geothermal power has directly hired more than 2,500 individuals.
At Emerging Power Inc. or EPI, we also employ locals in our various power plants including indigenous people. Our Mindoro power plant has employed some Mangyans while there are hundreds of Aetas working with us in the Subic solar plant. So far, we have roughly 400 individuals working with us, and this figure is likely to increase over time as we build more renewable energy projects.
Aside from giving them employment, EPI also provides them with the opportunity to go back to school through our CSR programs. For example, our Alternative Learning Program sponsors individuals to go back to school regardless of their age. In fact, one of our recent high school graduates is a 47-year old Mangyan, who unfortunately had to quit school in the past due to poverty.
Clearly, growing our RE sector will help address the country’s unemployment problems especially when renewables provide more employment than coal-fired plants. A study by the University of Massachusetts, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy in the US, noted that about 2.5 million new jobs are to be created when investments on clean energy reach a total of $150 billion. Concluding their report, the researchers added that “clean-energy investments generate roughly three times more jobs than an equivalent amount of money spent on carbon-based fuels.”
Again, I am not against coal power plants per se. In fact, I had helped built some them when I was with NAPOCOR. But times are different, and we need to make some changes to address the needs of our country and the earth.
We have to remember that we are a country that benefits from abundant natural resources. For one, we are the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world. Plus, the Philippines has a long and hot summer, as well. According to the National Renewable Energy Labor NREL, the Philippines has the potential of generating an average of 161.7 watts per sq. m., being one of the sunniest countries on the planet.
No doubt that we are set to gain more economically if we harness our resources properly. Building more power plants from renewables could help lower our unemployment rate which stands at 19.7% as of July this year. RE doesn’t only help save the planet; it also helps improve the lives of so many through the creation of jobs.
“Green is Gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs”. Greenpeace
Note: Data including geothermal, wind employment & NREL figures, cited UCLA Berkeley, University of Massachusetts & German Renewable Energies studies and definition of direct employment are included in the Greenpeace report.
Labor Force Survey. PSA. https://psa.gov.ph/statistics/survey/labor-force