Overview

We make no apologies for trying to convince you of the potential for renewable energies since it is part of our raison d'etre. Progress since Greenjobs launched in 2004 has more than justified our optimism as the chart comparing end-year capacity demonstrates. The three principal non-hydro renewables almost tripled in aggregate in a five year span and now contribute almost 150GW to global energy production and solar has overtaken geothermal. (Source: REN21-Renewables 2010 Gobal Status Report).

 In 2004 we stated that RE met about 12% of 2003 global energy demand (6% in USA).  By 2008 this had increased to 19% (7% in USA) despite over 15% growth in total energy demand. Traditional biomass is still by far the largest renewable contributor. Despite their massive growth in the period, wind, solar and geothermal together are still the smallest RE component.

Renewables, excluding traditional biomass, primarily produce electric power and this is an interesting way to look at the data. The chart below demonstrates that RE made an 18% contribution to globa electric power production in 2008.

 The picture is slightly different in the USA. Renewables contributed only 7% of the total demand in 2008 compared to 19% globally. In addition, nuclear supplies relatively more at 9% rather than 2.8%.

In some ways, the last six years have brought our future needs into greater focus: it is now self-evident that attaining a sustainable energy future will depend as much on how we use energy as on how we produce it and this is forcing a change in the Greenjobs focus. We will increasingly try to focus attention on topics such as,

  • energy storage
  • advanced transportation
  • advanced transport fuels
  • sustainable building
  • carbon management

We will be adding background information on each of these topics so check back from time to time.

Previously we stated that "in 1995, over 45,000 jobs were directly or indirectly related to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and that number has grown rapidly in the intervening years".  In fact, the growth curve has been so steep that estimates for 2007 put the US number at greater than 9 million (1) - 500,000 in renewable energy and 8.6 million in energy efficiency. An earlier study (2) estimated world renewable energy jobs at more than 2.3 million in 2006. Clearly the long-term employment prospects in the green sector are good - and improving every day!

(1) Green Collar Jobs in the U.S. and Colorado, R.H. Bezdek, American Solar Energy Society, January 2009.
(2) Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, Worldwatch Institute, For UN Environment Program, September 2008