fossil fuels and nuclear
An understanding of the international coal trade and the decreasing labour intensity of coal mining is essential to make projections for how a switch to renewable energy will affect energy sector jobs around the world. The full report for the 2009 employment study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (Rutovitz and Atherton, 2009) provides detail of all the methodology to calculate employment related to coal-fired electricity generation.
The global trend for energy production from coal is for bigger mines that employ fewer people. China, for example, is expected to close at least 10,000 small mines and develop 16 ‘super mines’ that will produce an average of 70 million tonnes per year each. Compared with a miner in a traditional rural Chinese mine, who produces 100 tonnes per year, a single worker in one of the large super mines is expected to produce 30,000 tonnes per year. Examples of average production in other countries is 14,000 tonnes per year in the US and 13,800 tonnes per year in Australia.
coal Under the Reference scenario jobs in coal fall by 6% from 2010 to 2020, and then stay virtually static from 2015 to 2030, despite a 40% increase in power generation. The main reasons are:
- Jobs per MW across all technologies falls as prosperity and labour productivity increases. In the model, regional job multipliers are applied to OECD employment factors in non-OECD regions to reflect this. The regional multipliers are higher in the early years and decrease over the study period as the difference between labour productivity in the OECD and other regions falls. As labour productivity reaches a par with OECD countries, employment per MW falls to OECD levels. If no regional multiplier is used in the model, coal employment at 2020 would be predicted to increase by 4% rather than decrease by 6% relative to 2010. That would model a future where China’s projected rapid increase in prosperity and labour productivity does not occur.
- The decline factors applied to each technology reflect the reduction in costs. An annual decline of 0.3% is applied between 2010 and 2020 and 0.2% between 2020 and 2030. This relatively low annual decline does not affect coal sector employment substantially. If no decline factors are used then coal employment falls by 3% rather than 4% between 2010 and 2020.
Under the Energy [R]evolution scenario, growth in coal generating capacity is almost zero. By 2030 there is a slight fall in coal capacity, so there would be a corresponding reduction in coal sector jobs. The result is that installation and manufacturing jobs in the coal sector fall to almost zero. Under the advanced version there would be no growth in coal capacity up to 2015 and a decline immediately afterwards. By 2030, coal capacity contributes only 15% of global energy supply, a fall reflected in the reduced number of jobs. As the scenarios emphasise, however, any losses are offset by very high growth in employment in renewable energy, which would not occur if coal is allowed to continue to dominate the global energy mix.
gas, oil/diesel and nuclear
- For gas, global employment is between 1.5 million and 1.7 million jobs between 2015 and 2020 in all scenarios. Under the Energy [R]evolution, gas plays an important role as a transition fuel, so the same amount of employees are needed as under business as usual. By 2030, however, there are 1.7 million gas jobs in the reference case, with around 300,000 less in the basic Energy [R]evolution scenario (500,000 less in the Advanced scenario). This is because the transition to renewable energy is accelerated in these scenarios due to the requirement to cut greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible after 2015.
- For nuclear, annual investment would drop to zero by 2030 in both Energy [R]evolution scenarios, with a corresponding sharp decline in employment in the nuclear sector.