Renewable requirement could jump start manufacturing

CALIFORNIA - With new clean technologies being brought to light in the dim illumination of a global economic recession, a new study forecasts that an increase in renewable energy would help to get people back to work by creating manufacturing jobs.

An alliance of non-profit organizations together called for economic stimulus through a substantially higher renewable electricity standard.

A new report released by the Blue Green Alliance, directly links the development of a renewable electricity standard to the creation of 850,000 manufacturing jobs. The figure takes several factors into consideration, linking renewable development to fossil fuels in terms of job production.

According to studies performed over the past seven years, by organizations California Energy Commission and the Berkeley Center for Renewable Energy, renewable sources generate greater employment, four to six times as many (per megawatt), when compared to equivalent investments in fossil fuels. The report postulates that a 25-percent requirement of 18,500 MWs of power from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass by 2025 would create jobs for a group that are the "backbone of the middle class," according to David Foster, the Blue Green Alliance's Executive Director.

Foster added that the creation of these new jobs is necessary to combat the "devastating downturn in domestic manufacturing.

" The government would be "leaving jobs on the table," according to Debbie Sease, National Campaigns Director at the Sierra Club, with "75% of new green jobs ending up in China [or] Europe," per Michael Peck of the MAPA Group.

Peck emphasized the need for progression in raising a renewable standard with a 12-percent renewable electricity standard by 2012, creating 70,000 new jobs and assisting the growth of existing companies and start-ups. Nearly half of the manufacturing jobs lost in the automotive industry could be recovered through a renewable standard.

A study released earlier this month by the University of California at Berkeley revealed that California alone could create half a million jobs by 2050 if they converted to 50-percent renewable energy combined with other studies may act as beacons towards standard establishment. Just as the energy market is changing, so are the facilities that produce their required materials and components.

Organizations that once made equipment vital to certain fossil fuel extraction or refinement will receive a further push towards supplying clean technology with the advent of a higher electricity standard.

As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is working towards finalizing major energy legislation this week, the renewable electricity standard has reached 15-percent, though a quarter of that would be from retrofitting/efficiency measures, but it may be insufficient to restart the manufacturing sector. Under the darkening clouds of climate change and global economic recession, policymakers must consider the ties between renewable energy and new jobs in a battered sector.


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