You can just hear the naysayers claiming “It could never be done. There never could be one million green jobs.” Like many new things that do materialize eventually, it has come true.
According to information released by EuroObserv’ER, approximately 1.1 million people living in Europe have jobs in renewable energy. Yes, renewable energy, not coal, not oil, not fracking for natural gas.
Curiously, although this achievement is a tremendous accomplishment both in terms of clean energy production and in helping people learn new skills in an emerging industry while paying them, it doesn’t seem to have garnered much press, at least in the United States.
The report actually only used jobs data from 2010, so it is possible if they do another analysis to include the more recent numbers there could be even more jobs documented. The top renewable energy employers in Europe were biomass (273,000), solar photovoltaics (268,110), and wind (253,145). Next were biogas (52,810) and solar thermal (49,845) with ground source heat pumps, waste-to-energy, small hydro, and geothermal filling in the remainder.
One trend that points to the possibility there were even more renewable energy jobs added in 2011 is the fact nearly 70 percent of Europe’s new electricity capacity came from solar and wind power. An expanding clean energy industry obviously can translate into more jobs.
Another significant fact is the growth of over one million jobs in renewable energy took place during a very challenging economic period. If there had not been a global recession, the expansion might have been greater. So for the future, when there is economic growth and stabilization, the emerging renewable energy industry in Europe may experience another uptick in installations and in new jobs.
Perhaps one reason we in the U.S. don’t hear so much about clean energy successes in Europe, is that our own green jobs growth, which was claimed could have been up to five million during the 2008 campaign, has been far less with only about 225,000 resulting from government programs.
Image Credit: Rainer Lippert, Public Domain Wiki Commons