"Clean-Energy Jobs Surpass Oil Drilling for First Time in U.S." So what?

Guest post by David Middleton


From Bloomberg


The number of U.S. jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction for the first time last year, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil-fuel companies faltered.

Employment in the U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation, the International Renewable Energy Agency said in a report on Wednesday. About 8.1 million people worldwide had jobs in the clean energy in 2015, up from 7.7 million in 2014, according to the industry group based in Abu Dhabi.




Why is this newsworthy?  Energy production is not a jobs program. The fact it takes more people to provide for 1% of our energy consumption than it takes to provide for 52% (67% if imported oil is included) is not a positive aspect of solar power.

The following charts are calibrated in “millions of tonnes of oil equivalent” (MTOE).  The data are from the Bloomberg article, BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2015 and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


In 2014, it took 39,402 solar industry employees to produce 1 MTOE of energy. It only took 166 oil and gas industry employees to produce 1 MTOE.

What’s that? You can’t see the Oil & Gas bar on the chart? I can fix that.


Logarithmic scale.



I am using 2014 because that is the most recent year for which I had comprehensive data. It was also the peak employment year for the oil and gas industry (~200,000 employees vs ~165,000 solar employees).  Since 2014, U.S. oil & gas employment has declined; however our total oil & gas production continued to climb…



The fact that the United States leads the world in oil & gas production is a bit more significant than the fact that the typical solar industry worker is less than 1% as productive as the typical oil & gas employee.

Data Sources

BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2015

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


210 thoughts on “"Clean-Energy Jobs Surpass Oil Drilling for First Time in U.S." So what?

  1. Pretty sad, when the green jobs are not “sustainable” without subsidies from ratepayers and taxpayers. The ultimate make-work program.

    • 200,000 more US citizens essentially working for The State. We’re inching ever closer to the socialist utopian dream.

      • http://www.speroforum.com/a/18796/Spain-Every-green-job-destroys-22-jobs#.V0dze9QmKrU
        Spain: Every ‘green’ job destroys 2.2 jobs
        While some U.S. politicians point to Spain as a model for how government subsidies can create “green jobs,” a new study documents that every renewable job created by the Spanish government destroyed an average of 2.2 other jobs. Also, each “green” megawatt installed in Spain destroyed 5.39 jobs in non-energy sectors, the study found.”
        That was then (2009). Where is Spain’s economy now? Is that where the US is heading if it keeps on destroying jobs by rushing headlong into expensive unreliable energy?

    • I’m only interested in three metrics of free clean green renewable energy business versus old tired obsolete oil drilling business; i.e. the ratio of new to old.
      Those metrics are :
      1/ business percent of US GNP
      2/ Business tax payments to US Treasury.
      3/ Industry employee tax payments to US treasury.
      So tell us HOW MUCH MORE is free clean green renewable energy business contributing to US economy, that old tired oil drilling industries.

    • Higher efficiency and productivity creates MORE wealth and FEWER jobs, than does lower efficiency and productivity.
      We need less people working to provide energy, rather than more.

      • Higher efficiciency, that is, enabling workers to create more stuff in an 8 hour shift is what has created the middle class and was the source for all of the wage increases over the last few hundred years.
        It had nothing to do with government.
        It had nothing to do with unions.
        It was private companies investing in the latest in tools for their workers.

      • Mark W
        Yes. Spot on.
        Tools – and Training, etc.
        But – absolutely – private companies investing.

      • MarkW, won’t disagree when you say “private companies.” Government may have affected things, unions may have as well, but what has killed the golden goose and middle class is private corporations, where the only thing that matters is the profit return to stock holders. Private companies viewed their workers as assets that produced wealth, thus they took care of them. Private corporations view their workers as cogs in a machine, and can easily be replaced or removed until the machine breaks. Then you declare bankruptcy and either stick the people that supplied you or got support from the government, but one thing was certain, the big stock holders got out without losing much of anything.

    • Never mind that. The fact is we need to employ more people per unit output of “green energy” than we do for conventional energy. How the hell is that progress?

      • Put 50,000 people on bicycle treadmills to generate electricity if you want to spike the numbers that much. Just don’t expect the people to be able to afford the price per kilowatt hour once all the costs come in…

      • Doesn’t have much of anything to do with economics. Government can fix economics with the stroke of a pen.
        It’s a technological (science & engineering) problem. You have to consume LESS already available energy, in a process that makes MORE additional energy available. (Using nothing but the raw material resources in their current natural state).

    • Absolutely correct. Besides being sustainable the oil and gas industry provides several orders of magnitude more energy per worker than the “green mafia” does.

  2. ..Obviously it takes more people (at a higher cost), to produce “Green Energy” !! ….I wonder what the energy created per person is ?

    • Good question Marcus, I also wonder what the renewable taxes paid after subsides is for each unit of useful energy generated, minus the additional cost to conventional energy (appropriately charged to renewables) to ramp up and down at the whim of nature and sporadic renewables politically designated guarantee of first right to sell ALL that they produce. (despite far higher costs)

    • ” ….I wonder what the energy created per person is ? “.
      Yep. Someone needs to calculate how much energy all those solar workers would generate if we simply strapped each of them to a bicycle/generator set 8 hours a day.

    • If I haven’t goofed in my calculations …
      TOE => 4.20E+010 J
      MTOE => 4.20E+016 J
      Employee / MTOE => 39402
      Energy/employee => 1065935739302.57
      hours work / year => 2000
      seconds work / year => 7200000
      Power / employee => 148046.63 W/worker
      So a couple orders of magnitude more power than running a hamster wheel, but still WAY short of oil.

  3. kilowatts per job, or jobs per megawatt tells the story. If the consistent energy income is not there to support the jobs, then profit is down and as mrmethane said, the ‘jobs are not sustainable’.

  4. No mention of the wages involved. No surprise. The “green jobs” pay half what oil and gas did, but, hey, a job’s a job, right? And what’s wrong with earning $14 an hour instead of $30? You can still pay your mortgage and maybe even buy food.

  5. The fossil fuel “industry” is not faltering, in the sense that free markets are dictating natural, economic outcomes. It is being attacked by unnecessary regulation and disadvantaged by subsidies going to far less efficient forms of energy. This is costing millions of jobs in any job sector that depends of fuel, electricity, heating oil. Economic illiteracy is the headline here.

    • Define “subsidized jobs”. If you mean “tax breaks”, you can just shut the door on virtually every US industry. Farming is one of the heaviest subsidized industries out there. Shall we shut down farming? Actually, I’m fine with removing subsidized jobs from both sides as it will immediately destroy the economy, push the US into chaos and then things will sort out. Since people are so totally math illiterate and don’t care about economic reality, I figure just toss the whole thing in the blender and let Nature or whatever sort it out. This slow, agonizing death from illiteracy and emotional appeals is depressing and shows no sign of reversing. So toss them all out. Get it over with fast.

      • Subsidies are money that comes OUT of the federal treasury. They are not money that doesn’t go into the federal treasury.
        The largest “shareholder” in the oil and gas petrochemicals industry is the US federal treasury.

    • Since oil and gas pay large NET taxes after “subsides” (tax and business deductions common to many industries and industry specific to allow equitable US competition in foreign markets) and green energy true subsidies likely exceed any taxes, then, as you know, doing this will show a very large benefit of fossil fuel production. Do not forget to include the taxes paid to the Fed and state for every gallon of gas sold.

      • ” … oil and gas pay large NET taxes after “subsides” …
        Indeed, yet this is rarely/never mentioned when the Oil/Gas subsides are referenced. I found it quite revealing when President Obama said that he wanted to remove the Oil/Gas subsidy because that money could be better spent elsewhere. Why wouldn’t the first thing be to apply that subsidy amount as an offset to gas taxes at the pump?

      • The only “subsidy” that has ever been identified is the depletion allowance. Which is similar in affect to the depreciation allowance that every other business uses.
        That is, as they land/leases that they bought become less valuable as the oil/gas/whatever is taken from it, they can deduct this drop from their income.
        In reality though, neither depreciation nor depletion are subsidies, they actually increase the total taxes that a company has to pay.
        Absent these allowances, a company would be able to expense 100% of the cost of attaining building/equipment/leases etc. in the year in which they were purchased. Instead they are only permitted to subtract a fixed percentage per year over a set number of years.
        Since, as everyone knows, money now is more valuable than money sometime in the future, the companies are losing money when they are forced to deduct these costs over time.
        Yes, I am quite aware that there are sound actuarial reasons for doing it this way and I don’t feel like debating those at this time. I’m just pointing out that these “deductions” actually cost the companies money. They are NOT subsidies.

    • There are no subsidies on the oil and gas side. Unless you are one of those people who consider any tax rate less than 100% a subsidy.

      • They count standard tax deductions as “subsidies.”
        The “big” one is the percentage depletion allowance. The cost of developing an oil field can’t be recovered as an expense for the year in which it was incurred. It has to be recovered against the production over the life of the field. If they did away with percentage depletion and forced all companies to use cost depletion, it would generally take longer to recover their costs.

    • What if one side doesn’t have any subsidized jobs; then what are you going to do ??

    • Watching the clouds of obfuscation surrounding the explanations offered here for “subsides” (what the hell are sibsides); indicates the problem in dealing with the low information people.
      It’s very simple: Every morning, I shave with my 50 cent twin blade Schick razor. And every morning I toss a penny into a jar in the bathroom. In about seven weeks time, I take that jar and I go and buy a new twin blade Schick razor that is sharp.
      If the government steals my jar of pennies, then I can’t shave, so I get fired from my job.
      So then I can’t pay any taxes, because I have no source of revenue. I’m quite happy to pay taxes (If I had the money) so that the government can buy bullets, and bombs, and feed the soldiers, so they can stop some other Cretan from stealing my pennies.
      That’s about all there is to it. My penny jar is NOT a subsidy.
      Think about what a hell of a pickle I would be in if my Schick twin blade shaver evolved like happens in the semi-conductor computer chip industry.
      If I save up my 50 pennies over seven weeks and then go to Target, to buy a new sharp one; what I discover, is that the engineers have been busy, and my twin blade 50 cent razor has now blossomed into a new whizz bang five blade razor that will cost me five dollars instead of 50 cents.
      So unless I put away more than a penny a day for my new razors, I would have to go to my boss or some other rich guy, and ask him if he wants to invest $4.50 in my new five blade razor, so I can continue to go on shaving; now even closer than before, and keep my job, so I can design all kinds of wonderful useful things for my boss to sell.
      The semi-conductor industry is an example of an industry, where depreciation is totally inadequate to the task of maintaining the business. You need to have very large profitability, and you need to lure even further investment from moneyed investors seeking a piece of your profitability, or else you go out of business due to obsolescence.
      The motto of Silicon Valley is:
      ” If it works; it’s obsolete ! ”

  6. Generally speaking, one doesn’t want an energy system that requires large numbers of employees. Elon
    Musk’s bright idea for the most efficient battery factory will employ practically no one. Factory efficiency is almost entirely due to lack of any need for employee payroll. Anyone who thinks that , with the new advanced nuclear coming online in the early2020’s, that solar and wind will still be viable, is just plain dumb.

    • I read a report yesterday that even the Chinese are replacing 10’s of thousands of employees with robots.

  7. Looks like another hockey stick forming in solar employment. Perfect example regulatory burden combined with a tax/subsidy effect. Tax/regulate and you get less. Subsidize and you get more. Central planning at it’s finest – National control of industry, social issues and speech.

  8. The number of U.S. jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction for the first time last year,

    So what, all of those solar energy jobs produced nothing of a “net value increase” in/for the US economy.
    On the contrary, all of those solar energy jobs are directly responsible for a dastardly “net value decrease” in/for the US economy.
    Increases in solar energy jobs are directly akin to increases in government employment jobs.
    They are an extreme cost burden on the taxpaying public and they produce nothing of value.
    When the cost of labor exceeds the retail value of the product produced …… then automation will reduce the amount of labor needed to produce the goods, …… like so in the US, to wit:

    In 1914 at the peak there were 180,000 anthracite miners; by 1970 only 6,000 remained.
    Employment in bituminous peaked at 705,000 men in 1923, falling to 140,000 by 1970 and 70,000 in 2003.

    From 885,000 miners before automation …… to 76,000 miners after automation with production quantities increasing all the while.

  9. It is amazing that efficiency in the use of human energy and intelligence is ignored in this “forced” transition to solar. This on top of solar being a poor substitute.

  10. Solar and wind are now competitive with fossil fuels when producing energy. The bottom line is the cost to the consumer. If renewables produce more jobs than fossil fuels and they are still competitive, I say it is a win-win situation.

    • Looks like a huge waste of time, manpower and resources with little benefit in terms of “product” produced and one must include tax dollars wasted in the “cost to consumers”.

      • By competitive I mean the cost of producing a megawatt of electricity from renewables is similar to fossil fuels.
        From Fortune
        The Bloomberg report says that the average cost of electricity generated by wind farms (on land, not offshore) throughout the world dropped to $83 per megawatt hour in the second half of this year. At the same time, electricity generated by solar panel farms fell to $122 per megawatt hour.
        In comparison, the cost of electricity from coal and natural gas actually rose in the second half of this year. Coal-based electricity cost $75 per megawatt hour (up from $66 per megawatt hour) in North and South America, while natural gas-based electricity cost $82 in North and South America (up from $76 per megawatt hour).

      • If renewable produce the product at the same cost and produce more jobs, I say that is a win-win. Where is all the money associated with producing electricity with fossil fuels going if it isn’t going into jobs? The alternatives I can see are: 1. the CEO is walking off with obscene amounts of money, 2. the money is being stashed in offshore accounts, 3. it is being invested into other industries. Only the latter may benefit society.

      • Luke, where indeed? You are omitting two additional options, which are both true and change the question around entirely.
        4: Wind and solar are economical due to a number of unfair structural advantages. Wind and solar have extreme subsidies and favorable regulations, while oil, gas, and coal experience punitive taxes and restrictions.
        5: The wind and solar cost omits the increased transmission costs due to their distributed production and increased costs due to storage and lost grid efficiency due to rapid cycling.
        So the answer is that the data is incomplete. It is half-accounting. The claim that they somehow hire so many more people while providing the same service at the same price should have clued you in on the fact that they were omitting other important facts.
        Jumping to the conclusion “they are evil people funneling away money” says more about you than them.

      • Luke,
        Did you read that article which you linked?
        It puts a lie to the renewable price competitiveness meme with one sentence.
        “Carbon policies in the U.K. and Germany make the cost of electricity from wind significantly cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels.”
        Why do you always promote the fashionable ideas put forth by the likes of Bloomberg and Soros?
        You are wrong with every post you make here, either logically, or factually.
        You definitely fit the profile of a paid spokesman. There is no other way that you could be so wrong, so consistently.

      • Luke quoted Forbes:
        “Coal-based electricity cost $75 per megawatt hour (up from $66 per megawatt hour) in North and South America, while natural gas-based electricity cost $82 in North and South America (up from $76 per megawatt hour).”
        Luke, you and Forbes are suffering from poor accounting skills. The reason that the cost to generate from coal and gas has increased in the face of diminishing fuel costs is that they have been forced to intermittently fill in for irregular wind and solar power delivery. With proper accounting these costs should be placed where they belong: into the wind and solar accounts not the coal and gas accounts. But if those cost were properly charged then the cost of wind and solar would “necessarily skyrocket”. Certain regulators will not allow utilities to properly treat the cost consequences of intermittent supply, which also includes a more expensive and fragile grid. It’s a scam.

      • Hi Luke, how you doing?
        Lets see,, to answer you question on the difference in where the money goes between renewables and “fossil fuels” you have to first establish the “cost of goods sold” (COGS) for each type . Also factor in all the Taxes Federal State and local. Also factor in taxes of equipment owned. do both pay equally? This determines the profit margin. Next how do they fund their enterprises. For renewables it tends to be grants, Government backed loans and cost transfers to costumers For fossil fuels it is stock sales and profits. Note, all fossil fuel companies make dividend payments.This were the profits tend to go. You know 401Ks, Public and Private Pension plans. Renewables miss loan payments and file bankruptcies.
        Pick your business model and invest in it.

      • Luke, if you actually believe your drivel, please do what others say and put your money where your mouth is. Have fun with those “competitive” investments.

      • RWturner I do put my money where my mouth is. I own an electric car and I have installed solar panels that cover all of my electricity usage.
        [All? .mod]

      • Luke, the money from hydrocarbon based energy goes to taxation and regulatory costs, which wind and solar get a free pass on.

      • Luke,
        it appears to me that you have averted your eyes and your mind to the FACT that …..renewable electrical generators REQUIRE constantly operating fossil fuel electrical generators as “back-up” ……… whereas fossil fuel electrical generators do not REQUIRE constantly operating (HA, HA) renewable electrical generators as “back-up”.
        So, best you add the co$t$ for operating those “back-up” fossil fuel electrical generators to the co$t of renewable generated electricity.

      • Cam: You may be (though I doubt it) be covering all of your electric usage from solar panels, however you only paid about 10% the cost of buying and installing those panels.

      • PS: If you drive more than a couple of miles a day, it is physically impossible for a roof mounted system to both power your house and recharge your car.

    • No. The bottom line is not cost to the consumer.
      The bottom line is reliability.

    • If wind and solar are really so cheap, why are Denmark and Germany’s electricity cost about 3 times as much as oours

    • pssst sciguy54
      Fortune, not Forbes… and they were reporting on a Bloomberg “study”, which instantly trigger working BS detectors.

    • Luke May 26, 2016 at 7:15 am Edit
      Solar and wind are now competitive with fossil fuels when producing energy. The bottom line is the cost to the consumer. If renewables produce more jobs than fossil fuels and they are still competitive, I say it is a win-win situation.

      Wind and solar are far from competitive.
      While wind’s LCOE is competitive, its capacity factor will never be competitive. Furthermore, the LCOE doesn’t include the cost of storage or dispatchable back-up generation capacity. These Department of Energy estimates are for plants entering into service in 2020.
      In order to replace 1 MW of natural gas you would have to deploy 2.4 MW of wind or 3.5 MW of solar and you would have to have a cost-effective storage system. Or you would have to back up every MW of solar/wind with a MW of gas or coal.

      • Well, at least we agree that the LCOE is competitive. That is a very major step for a skeptic 😉
        Also, why is the capacity factor so relevant? You’d indeed need more nameplate generation capacity, but so what? If wind turbines are so cheap you can afford to build 3 MW worth for every MW of coal, what do you care? Also, it should be pointed out that capacity factor is partially a design feature. If you would just stick a 1MW turbine on a massive wind turbine that would normally do 7MW, the capacity factor would be very high (80%?), but you’d still have less energy overall and the LCOE would be higher.
        Finally, storage. Yes, you are totally correct. But lets at least advance the discussion to the point that we agree that for a marginal addition, the LCOE of wind is competitive and we can discuss storage for true large scale deployment.

      • @benben
        The size of the turbine doesn’t affect the capacity factor.
        Wind can be competitive under certain conditions. The reason it works well in Texas is due to physical geography. The Llano Estacado is the ideal place for wind farms. The capacity factor can exceed 50%.
        Capacity factor is the difference between “dispatchable” and “non-dispatchable” generation. A typical natural gas plant will operate at a capacity factor of 87%. It is capable of delivering its full capacity 87% of the time. The down time is generally related to maintenance. Solar and wind only have capacity factors of 25 to 35% in most places. Their down times are generally due to the Sun not shining and wind not blowing.
        Gas, coal and nuclear are dispatchable. They deliver electricity based on demand. Wind and solar are non-dispatchable. They deliver electricity based on availability. This means that comparable LCOE’s are not terribly relevant. Making solar and wind cost-competitive with fossil fuels isn’t even half the battle. Two things can have the same unit price; yet have vastly differing values.

        The Concept of Grid Parity
        The National Renewable Energy Laboratory describes grid parity as the “break-even” cost for electricity from a renewable energy source in relation to “electricity purchased from the grid.”[1] In other words, grid parity is attained when an energy source, such as solar power or wind energy, reaches cost-competitiveness on the electric grid with conventional sources of generation such as coal and natural gas.
        Nevertheless, strictly focusing on the cost of electricity ignores other important factors that affect an energy source’s relative value on the power grid. For instance, electricity supply and demand must be continually balanced to provide consistent, stable, and reliable power for American households and businesses.
        Consequently, most generation resources fulfill different roles on the grid, including baseload (for a continuous supply of electricity), intermediate (for following daily, predictable rises and falls in demand), or peaking capacity (for ramping up and down quickly to meet peak demand). Natural gas, coal, nuclear, and even hydroelectric generating units can effectively fill these various roles.
        Conversely, wind and solar are intermittent and only produce electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Due to their inherent limitations, renewables are less useful for electricity generation than conventional sources. As a result, true grid parity should go beyond prices and consider the comparative functionality of various energy sources.
        The Challenge of Dispatchable Power
        The issue of being able to “dispatch”—or turn on or off—energy when it is demanded is an essential aspect of electricity generation that grid parity hardly addresses. Focusing merely on price competition ignores the crucial way that an electricity source functions on the grid and relates to other sources.
        Numerous experts emphasize the importance of on-demand power generation. The nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) distinguishes between dispatchable sources (e.g., coal, natural gas, and nuclear) and non-dispatchable ones (e.g., wind and solar) in its calculation of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) “because caution should be used when comparing them to one another.”[2]
        Another analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations also recognizes the problems posed by non-dispatchable, or intermittent, electricity sources. In essence, the analysis argues that the “unpredictability” of renewable generation makes other power plants less efficient because coal and natural gas must back up solar and wind when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow.[3] A report on Seeking Alpha concurs, arguing that it “makes very little sense to compare the relative costs of these intermittent sources of energy to a dispatchable source of energy.”
        Since renewables do not operate on the grid in an equivalent way to dispatchable electricity resources, true grid parity cannot functionally be achieved. As a result, grid parity is an empty concept because it ignores essential elements of energy generation: electricity sources should produce power predictably and reliably respond to demand.

      • benben:
        May you end up living in a field full of wind turbines. Southern Alberta used to be beautiful to ride a horse across the prairie and listen to the wind. Now all you hear is “thump, thump thump”. The rolling hills look like porcupines that would make Quixote excited and provide a lifetime of tilting. I get sad as I watch the urban environmentalists destroy a Rural Alberta that they don’t even see as they roar by in their mini-vans with their kids playing X-Box in the back while they rush to their next stop without any idea of what they have done to the countryside while staring straight ahead on the ribbon of asphalt guided by cars with lane control so they don’t even have to turn their brains on. In reality, the urbanites by and large, don’t care about the countryside as long as they get their power, water, sewer and roads so they can put money in the bank while giving lip service to the environment. Most of them live in an urban bubble and have no idea of what the green machine is doing in the country side. But it has been like that for centuries so nothing new here. Well a little bit new – subsidy farming is carried out both in the urban and rural environment. Farmers and ranchers do get decent income from having their land despoiled with turbines, roads, power lines, substations and transmission lines from the badlands to the cities.
        But who benefits the most?
        Not the public.
        Who has seen the wind?
        Ah well. Some of us will soon just be dust blowing across the prairie. You, beben, can live with what you have built. A Mad Max future.
        For evening reading:

      • Levelized Costs are fairy tale numbers, just like Tesla’s Non-GAAP income numbers.
        And the Fortune article compares world green numbers with coal/gas prices in North and South America. Talk about “cherry picking”! What do coal and gas prices in Chile have to do with the same in the US?

      • Wayne Delbeke, you have a point of course. But according to your own arguement you should then also take an honest look at the environmental destruction caused by drilling, oil spills, oil sands etc etc. And they are massive (and incredibly well documented). But then the real point here is probably: you don’t live in any of these third world countries that are absolutely being destroyed by fossil fuels. And what you don’t see, you don’t care about?
        Obviously the vast majority of the population on this planet has decided that they rather have wind turbines than oil sands. Or, perhaps its a vast and massive conspiracy by a small group of evil overlords. Your choice!
        David, I understand that. Contrary to what many believe here I have a degree in chemical engineering and took plenty of courses on energy systems, renewable energy etc etc. at the electrical engineering and aeronautical engineering depts. I know my stuff. Either I did not explain properly how capacity factor and nameplate capacity interact, or you just don’t want to know… Anyway, no time to write a massive wall of text. My apologies!

        • benben is as clueless as any other eco-alarmist:
          …take an honest look at the environmental destruction caused by drilling, oil spills, oil sands etc etc.
          Like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, where you can’t find any evidence now of that ‘disaster’? Or any of the other ‘disasters’ that left no trace a few years later?
          benben refuses to ever consider any cost/benefit analysis. Because he would have to conclude that fossil fuesl are worth the occasional accident. But benben demands that everything must be perfect, to fit his fantasy of a perfect green world.
          These hypocrites get so tedious. They all use their share of fossil fuels, while demanding that poor countries must do without what they have. That’s benben and his eco-contingent. Always pontificating; always telling others how they should live their lives — but with no skin in the game themselves. Hypocrites all.

      • Wayne Delbeke says: May 26, 2016 at 9:54 am
        Southern Alberta used to be beautiful to ride a horse across the prairie and listen to the wind.

        Can the kids still go out and blast gophers?

      • benben posted…

        David, I understand that. Contrary to what many believe here I have a
        Either I did not explain properly how capacity factor and nameplate capacity interact, or you just don’t want to know… Anyway, no time to write a massive wall of text. My apologies!

        This proves that you are clueless about capacity factor…

        If you would just stick a 1MW turbine on a massive wind turbine that would normally do 7MW, the capacity factor would be very high (80%?), but you’d still have less energy overall and the LCOE would be higher.

        A 1 MW wind turbine with a 30% capacity factor would generate:
        0.3 × 1MW × 24 hr/d × 365 d/yr
        = 2,628 MhW/yr
        A 7 MW wind turbine with a 30% capacity factor would generate:
        0.3 × 7MW × 24 hr/d × 365 d/yr
        = 18,396 MWh/yr
        If you “would just stick a 1MW turbine on a massive wind turbine that would normally do 7MW,” the capacity factor would still be 30%.
        The capacity factor of a wind turbine is dictated by the wind resource. Capacity factor is totally independent of installed capacity.

        Capacity factor (net)
        The ratio of the net electricity generated, for the time considered, to the energy that could have been generated at continuous full-power operation during the same period.

      • No… that way to simplistic, and wrong: imagine a 7MW, 400 feet high wind turbine with massive rotors. They usually have a somewhat higher capacity factor than the average because they are higher and the wind up there is more consistent. So lets say 35% capacity factor. Sometimes it will produce at 100% of capacity, but not very often because it takes A LOT OF WIND to drive a 7MW turbine. Usually it will run at 50%, or 20% or whatever. Averaging to 35% of what could be achieved if there was maximum wind all the time.
        Now imagine the same wind turbine, just with a 1 MW generator on it. All those times the 7MW generator would be anywhere between 15-100% capacity, this 1MW generator would be steady at 100%. Obviously it would be not utilizing a lot of energy, because it will max out at 1MW while the other design would max out at 7MW, but purely in terms of capacity factor, it would reach 100% much, much more often. hence a much higher capacity factor.
        This by the way is an actual design consideration which is one of the factors why average capacity factors in the US are different than in Europe. Related to how the energy content of wind increases non-linearly with linearly increasing wind speeds.

      • David Middleton replies to benben:
        This proves that you are clueless about capacity factor…
        Benben couldn’t even define the troposphere. But he’s going to lecture a professional petroleum geologist on energy??
        Get a clue, benben. You’re way out of your league.

      • “benben May 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm”
        That has to qualify as one of the dumbest posts of the week.

      • how exactly is that dumb? It’s just an exaggerated example of one of the trade-offs in turbine design. Just to show that David’s statement that capacity factor and turbine design are not related, which is patently not true.
        I find it pretty weird how everyone here is so full of their own math/engineering/etc skills, but is completely incapable of stepping outside their own prejudices and just think about a technical aspect (namely, the effect of turbine design choices on capacity factor, LCOE, etc).
        Has nothing to do with political preferences, AGW skepticism or whatever else floats your boat.

      • Benben babbled,

        benben May 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm Edit
        No… that way to simplistic, and wrong…

        If’s the freaking definition of capacity factor. I don’t know if you are totally ignorant of basic math and science or if you are intentionally being obtuse. Either way, your comments are a waste of space.

      • did you even read what I wrote?
        Definition: “The ratio of the net electricity generated, for the time considered, to the energy that could have been generated at continuous full-power operation during the same period.”
        Clearly, if there is a day with X amount of wind that would cause the 1MW generator running at max capacity while the 7MW generator would produce, say 2MW of actual power, the capacity factor of that 1MW design would be higher, even though it would produce less energy overall for a given amount of time.
        This is such a bizarre discussion. What exactly do you not understand? Perhaps you are missing out on the fact that larger turbine blades will produce more power at the with the same amount of wind (the point being here that you would run the 1MW design with the larger turbine blades that are normally matched with larger generators), or you are not aware of the fact small wind turbines max out at higher wind speeds?
        Anyway, clearly you guys are not interested in wind turbines so I can’t expect you to know the finer points of turbine design. My apologies for overestimating your interest in the subject matter!

      • benben says:
        I find it pretty weird how everyone here is so full of their own math/engineering/etc skills, but is completely incapable of stepping outside their own prejudices
        That’s pure projection from ‘benben’ (and you use a very fitting and juvenile name there, kid).
        Instead of learning something from Dave Middleton — an engineer specializing in energy production, and with decades of real world experience — benben (heh) argues from ignorance and inexperience. Sorry benben (ha-ha!), you’re still a young, wet behind the ears know-nothing, with no real world experience. You should just read the comments here, instead of commenting and displaying your lack of knowledge.
        Speaking of “definitions”, benben (*snort*) displayed his ignorance of the of the troposphere’s definition. He tried to wing it, and got smacked down by about a half dozen other commenters.
        See, benben? In your case it’s better to just read the comments without trying to post your own misinformation. That way you’re not publicly embarrassed.

      • heh, thanks DB for that running commentary. It’s quite entertaining. You should try your hand at narrating a basketball match 😉

      • benben on May 27, 2016 at 9:49 am
        did you even read what I wrote?

        Yes I did. You keep babbling nonsense.
        Capacity factor has a simple definition and is expressed by a simple equation. Instead of babbling nonsense, simply show the math.
        Capacity factor is a function of output. Show the math supporting this abject nonsense…

        If you would just stick a 1MW turbine on a massive wind turbine that would normally do 7MW, the capacity factor would be very high (80%?), but you’d still have less energy overall and the LCOE would be higher.

    • Luke says, “Solar and wind are now competitive with fossil fuels when producing energy.”
      Not on earth Luke. Solar and wind are many times the cost of conventional, and significantly raise the cost of ALL energy production, are incredibly labor intensive per unit of energy produced, as this post demonstrates, do almost nothing to stop any global mean Temperature rise, provide zero of the massive benefits of increased CO2, and hundreds of billions of tax payers dollars have already been tossed into the trash after alternative energy bankruptcies which were heavily subsidized by tax payers.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. Unfortunately, there is way too much of this type of misinformation out there being drummed into the minds of the masses who aren’t paying attention to the scam and are therefore doing nothing to put a stop to it.

      • Luke:

        Wind and solar are competitive without subsidies

        Bwahaha…and, because humour is subsidised: hahahahaha!

      • Luke’s link above is nonsense. It never mentions the immense taxpayer subsidies funneled into windmill energy.
        Clean coal energy costs about 6¢ to 9¢ per kWh in many places. Wind energy always costs more — plus, there is currently more than a 25¢ taxpayer subsidy added on, and those subsidies will increase year over year in many places, to more than 50¢ per kWh.
        All Luke is doing is parroting the misinformation that the eco-crowd emits. The fact is that windmill energy is always far more expensive than any fossil fuel energy. But it takes intelligence and skepticism to understand that. Luke lacks both.

      • Luke also pretends that the mandates to buy “renewable” electricity at preferential prices don’t exist.

    • Ah – good point Luke. I wondered where all the squeegee kids at intersections went. Gainfully employed now wiping dust off solar panels. Which reminds me, gotta go clean my solar fencers. Thanks.

    • That’s only true because someone else pays for 90% of the cost of solar/wind.
      Not to mention the fact that the government has to require utilities to buy solar/wind.
      If what you say were actually true (for once), there would be no need of subsidies and mandated purchases.

  11. Solar will become much more competitive after we eliminate >95% of solar labor/MWe.

  12. All jobs are not created equal, and the stats are number of employees, not total payrolls. Someone working in an assembly plant for solar panels is making about $15 an hour. A rig hand on a well site, or a welder on a pipeline, is making $35-40 an hour. Heavy equipment operators at open pit mines make 80K a year.

    • Even if your estimates are correct, that still does not account for the huge disparity in the number of jobs. Where is the rest of the money going” Offshore accounts? CEO bonuses? How many people does that help?

      • Luke, arguing with you is really pointless, since you don’t seem to comprehend anything that’s being said in these comments.

      • If you don’t like it, buy shares. Then all that extra money you claim is being skimmed goes to you.
        Stop your whining… You are the source of your own misery.

      • Even if the numbers were real, which they aren’t (see prior post), why couldn’t it be equipment costs? Taxes? Overhead? Everything else? It’s not like they are public companies with routinely audited books … Oh wait, they are. Why don’t you look for yourself if you are so curious as to what they are spending money on? Insinuating that they could charge much less but don’t for sinister reasons just doesn’t make sense.
        Then I object to your premise that it would be a bad thing, even if you were right. How about I posit this: IF the numbers were right and they were able to make such huge volumes of cash on their production, that would be nothing but benefit. It’s the Luddite fallacy. Doing more with less work is bad for people whose jobs are no longer necessary. However, in the long run, it benefits society that we spend less on energy. As for those people who made all those billions? The money won’t sit in a McDuck style money bin, but will go into investments, making more money and supporting more businesses with more jobs. So, with your way you get energy, but with big oil, you have energy + more stuff. Everyone wins.
        Furthermore, even it was somehow happening and we decided we should do something, then the best idea would be to get better competition out there to reduce the amount they could charge for electricity. Keeping an inefficient competitor around would only SUPPORT the price, as the oil companies could charge one penny less per kWh than wind no matter how cheap their production costs.
        I have work to do, so I can’t afford to spend any more time on this, but you really need to rethink how you are approaching these problems.

      • Other ben, I think the perils of having a society with a mega-rich oil funded elite is pretty clear to anyone who has looked at… well, basically any oil-producing country outside of Norway.
        As I wrote below, the main message of this news is that renewables are not a job-killing thing, but rather that moving from fossil to renewables will be a net + for number of jobs. You agree that unemployment is bad, right?
        You can still be skeptical about all the other things and have long and entertaining discussions on how you want your society and economy to look like. It’s just that the ‘green policies kill jobs’ thing has been falsified and should no longer be used.

      • Luke asks, “Where is the rest of the money going”
        You mean the real profits made by oil and gas.
        Much is reinvested in additional production and a surprising amount goes to the retirement portfolio of millions.
        BTW Luke you should be asking what the Government does with their fossil fuel profits. (The government makes more off of gasoline at the pump then the oil industry makes from oil)

      • Luke , you do not appear to have allowed for the fact that perhaps a significant amount of the money made by conventional power generators flows to the US treasury in the form of company taxation – which helps to pay for a lot of food stamps . In the case of some green ventures the flow is in the opposite direction judging from some comments above .

      • The CEO of bancrupt German Solarworld lives in a castle and drives Ferraris. Just to answer your question where the money goes.

      • Luke May 26, 2016 at 7:47 am Edit
        Even if your estimates are correct, that still does not account for the huge disparity in the number of jobs. Where is the rest of the money going” Offshore accounts? CEO bonuses? How many people does that help?

        The purpose of a business is to make money for its owners… Not to help people.
        The huge disparity in employment is a function of power density and the nature of the two businesses. Oil and gas exploration, drilling and production is a capital-intensive business. It costs a lot of money to find and produce oil and gas. However, it is not a labor-intensive business. It doesn’t take a lot of people to find and produce oil and gas. Solar is both capital-intensive and labor-intensive… because almost all of the cost is in the construction of solar modules and facilities. It is also land use-intensive because solar has a very low power density.

        Now let’s consider the power density of wind energy, which is about 1.2 W/m2, and solar photovoltaic, which can produce about 6.7 W/m2. Both sources are superior to corn ethanol (nearly everything is), but they are incurably intermittent, which makes them of marginal value in a world that demands always-available power. Nor can they compare to the power density of sources like natural gas, oil and nuclear. For instance, a marginal natural gas well, producing 60,000 cubic feet per day, has a power density of about 28 W/m2. An oil well, producing 10 barrels per day, has a power density of about 27 W/m2. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant like the South Texas Project–even if you include the entire 19 square-mile tract upon which the project is sited–produces about 56 W/m2.
        Simple math shows that a marginal gas or oil well has a power density at least 22 times that of a wind turbine while a nuclear power plant has a power density that is more than 8 times that of a solar photovoltaic facility. Those numbers explain why power density matters so much: if you start with a source that has low power density, you have to compensate for that low density by utilizing more resources such as land, steel, and ultra-long transmission lines. Those additional inputs then reduce the project’s economic viability and its ability to scale.

        A marginal gas well “has a power density of about 28 W/m^2.” The largest solar PV plant in the US has a power density of 45 W/m^2. However, with its 33% capacity factor, it only delivers the equivalent of 15 W/m^2. The most powerful solar PV plant in the US is half as powerful as a marginal gas well.
        The best oil field (so far) in the Gulf of Mexico is Shell’s Mars Field (Mississippi Canyon 807). It has produced at an average rate of 135,000 barrels of oil per day since 1996. Its power density has been 45,626 W/m2 per day. And that’s just from the oil production. If I add in the natural gas production, Mars Field’s power 55,537 W/m2 per day.
        A typical Marcellus Shale gas well in Lycoming County, PA comes on at 6,000 mfc/d… That’s 28,000 W/m2. Even when you account for the power loss during generation, the power density remains very high relative to solar.
        The maximum solar insolation at the Earth’s surface is only about 280 W/m^2.
        Fossil fuels are millions of years of concentrated solar energy. Nuclear fuels are billions of years of concentrated solar energy. Wind and solar are not even in the same power density ballpark as fossil fuels and nuclear power. N2N (natural gas to nuclear) is the only real alternative to oil and coal.

      • “Even if your estimates are correct, that still does not account for the huge disparity in the number of jobs. Where is the rest of the money going” Offshore accounts? CEO bonuses? How many people does that help?”
        I’m so much smarter than those clowns, but those evil and greedy CEO’s somehow got really good paying jobs. They can’t possibly be worth so much more than me so we need to take their money until they are equal, no, below my income level.
        Then there is the idea that the money goes into a hole, never to be seen again. Or that a bunch of power hungry politicians can better determine where it should go than the person that was smart enough to earn it in the first place.

      • Other Ben. Yes. More employment for the same job is bad. Spending more for the same product is bad. Jobs created in this way harm everyone else in the system.
        You can argue other benefits or negatives, but this isn’t even economics. This is the definition of efficiency. Sorry, but I know you know better. Don’t lecture me on being closed minded on something like this when you are supporting a nonsensical position.

      • If you’re truly interested, the money you seem to think of as ill-gotten gains goes to buying capital equipment. For example: building a deep water facility in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling the wells, laying the pipeline across the ocean floor will require a planning team of about 50 people and a few hundred construction staff. The cost of steel, transport, and material will be $2-4 Billion. It will provide energy for about 30 years.
        If you want a real answer to your questions the answers can easily be found if you actually *read* a few annual reports or 10-Ks. It will become clear to you that these businesses have optimized technology and work processes and safety to a really amazing extent.
        You should thank them for bringing a product that touches every single thing you do every day. Otherwise good luck with your world view, I hope it works out…

      • Do a NPV (Net Present Value) calculation adding in all cost attributable to solar and wind, then, juxtapose that with conventional fuels. Wind and solar are massively more expensive —- 4x as costly. And, that is before you consider any battery backup which would make it 8x more expensive without subsidy. Additionally, subsidies always contract the economy. But, that is another point. And, don’t forget to add the externalities to the marketplace of battery recycling. There is a reason every solar/wind projection uses IRR (Internal Rate of Return) in lieu of NPV even after omitting parts of true cost calculation. There are 5 situations where IRR gives false estimates of real cost. It is what is used in every software presentation package for Solar and Wind, that, I have ever seen.

  13. Luke: Energy density 101: Energy density of solar is 0.0000015 Joules per cubic meter. Energy density of oil is 45,000,000,000 Joules per cubic meter. In other words, oil is 3 X 10^16 more energy dense than solar. In physics, energy is the ability to do work. I wouldn’t try running a modern economy on solar. You won’t get a whole lot of work done. Just do a thought experiment. Imagine you want to fly to London, and you have the choice of going solar (Solar Impulse 2) at 40 mph with you as the only pilot/passenger because that’s all solar can do) or flying a 747 at 550 mph with 400 other travellers and a crew of 8. Your choice.

    • Your argument applies to using fuels for transportation, not producing electricity for a grid. I agree that fossil fuels have higher energy density but that is irrelevant to my argument.

      • Unfortunately, factoring density out of your argument renders it incoherent with reality.

      • This is so strange. What luke says is exactly true. For transportation density is extremely important. For wind, you need enough surface area. And there are plenty of studies that show that there is plenty of surface area with good wind resources.
        And lets not forget that there are plenty of countries in europe with very high levels of wind energy and no problems with grid stability, and a very high level of public approval for renewables (~90%). All important facts, no?

      • I love the way the trolls try to pretend that reality and physics 101 are no longer relevant.
        A small country has a high renewables factor, yet is tied into a larger country with a very low renewable factor.
        If benben ever told the whole truth, his brain would explode.

      • benben says:
        What luke says is exactly true.
        That’s another indication that benben has no more understanding of the real world than Luke does.
        The whole argument is about energy density. Fossil fuels have it; windmills don’t. Case closed.

    • When instruments of solar and wind power can produce enough power in their usable lifetime to reproduce themselves, they will be one step closer to being competitive. That is the reason that low density harvesting of energy is not a self-sustaining industry.
      Yes, solar powers my horse fences adequately, but cattle ignore the solar-charged fence and push right through. One replacement battery costs me as much as 5 years of electricity on a plug-in charger (my battery lasted 5 years).
      The best usage I’ve seen so far are small scale devices powered by wind and solar, such as road signs and bridge lane-closure traffic lights, although I noticed that spare units must be kept on-site and switched out as needed. These extra equipment and labor costs are only offsetting hiring an electrical contractor to connect conventional signals to the roadside power lines, but I’ll bet they qualify as “green”.

    • Don’t forget how many hoses and oxen that takes, and how small those populations have become. The value of these animals would be greater than humans to the oligarchy.

    • Bob Cherba – And therein lies the ultimate utopia for the current mindset – the elimination of the continuing benefits of the Industrial Revolution (machines doing the work previously accomplished by animals and humans). Somehow, a large section of the younger generations in America and Europe have concluded going back to this world is the best thing for humanity. I’ll leave it to the rest of y’all to give input as to how we have arrived at this strange worldview!

  14. A green job may be sorting trash at a recycling center or driving a bus. As usual, it’s an invalid headline written to obfuscate reality. It’s also not comparing energy generating employment.

    • Why shouldn’t a bus driver be counted as an oil job? Buses run on petroleum products. That trash being sorted at a recycling center was all made and marketed and collected and transported on petroleum products also. Without oil there wouldn’t be any bus passengers, buses, recycling centers, etc.

  15. Think of the solar energy employees as welfare mothers. That is what they are.

  16. Success.
    The parasites now outnumber their hosts.
    The subsidy suckers, outnumber the taxpayers who labor to supply them.
    Another genuine government investment .

  17. Quick math: So for solar to replace Oil and Gas, ‘they’ would only need 47 million more employees (1188MTOE x 39402 employees/MTEO). That is more than the entire population of Canada.
    This all makes Obama’s plan for a ‘new green economy’ now seem so sinister. His green economy translates into subsidized, taxpayer funded, jobs.

    • I keep hearing Margaret Thatcher’s quote in my head – “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

  18. They have compared the entire solar energy industry to just upstream petroleum jobs. A more fair comparison would be oil and gas extraction jobs to solar panel installers: ~200,000 workers (amid a downturn) compared to ~120,000 workers (amid huge government incentive and subsidization)
    The upstream AND downstream petroleum industry directly employs about 800,000 people, with about another 900,000 in retail.
    And like the article says, what society gets from each of these job sectors is strikingly contrasted. 63% of the nations energy VS 0.43%

  19. Well, this surely puts to pasture the tired old ‘renewables are killing jobs’ argument. Now the skeptics are reduced to ‘renewables create many more jobs, but they don’t count’ which, I’m sure everyone agrees, doesn’t sound half as swanky.
    And as much as I would love to believe that renewables are a mean, green job creating machine, this data comparison doesn’t really pass the ‘does it smell like BS?’ test. It’s virtually impossible that you’d need ~39,000 more workers per equivalent unit for renewable energy. The labour costs would be incredibly enormous. Anthony must have made a couple of order of magnitude mistakes somewhere.
    And finally, the level of disbelief here at WUWT is really quite a sight to behold. So renewables can produce grid level electricity at prices competitive or even lower than fossil fuels (as witnessed by all the current non-subsidized low price records being set for utility scale renewables all across the world), all the while producing more local jobs. And that is a bad thing? As opposed to funneling huge amount of oil money to the middle east oil sheikhs, or, in the US, the extremely rich oil-elite?

    • benbenben sez:
      Well, this surely puts to pasture the tired old ‘renewables are killing jobs’ argument… Anthony must have made a couple of order of magnitude mistakes somewhere… And finally, the level of disbelief here at WUWT is really quite a sight to behold. So renewables can produce grid level electricity at prices competitive or even lower than fossil fuels (as witnessed by all the current non-subsidized low price records being set for utility scale renewables all across the world), all the while producing more local jobs.
      May I deconstruct? Thank you:
      First, “renewables killing jobs” is a specious argument. Give me the money and I can hire people all day long to dig 10’x10’x10′ holes in the ground, and then move the holes north every six weeks. Plenty of jobs for all! But a waste, just like ‘renewables’ jobs.
      Next, since all your posts are ridden with endless mistakes and simpleton errors, you’re no one to criticize someone else. Especially our host, who graciously allows you to post here. You’re always telling other people to be polite. Look in the mirror.
      Finally, when subsidies are accounted for, there is no comparison: fossil fuels are far less expensive than ‘renewables’. Yesterday someone posted a link to windmills that were receiving an extra subsidy of 25¢ per kWh — and that subsidy will increase every year, until it exceeds 50¢/kWh! In the mean time, clean coal power is being produced for 7¢ – 9¢ per kWh.
      Where do you get your misinformation, benben? From your pals at Yale? You know, the same place that folded its ‘green outreach’ for lack of interest. Without more gov’t loot, they just couldn’t make it in the real world.
      Same-same with ‘renewables’.

      • benben says, ”
        Well, this surely puts to pasture the tired old ‘renewables are killing jobs’ argument.
        Benben, do you wish to see economic studies that demonstrate that for every green job created, two to three jobs are destroyed? Energy is the life blood of EVERY economy.

      • Your replies to me have become more polite. Thank you good sir! And DB,
        “Yesterday someone posted a link to windmills that were receiving an extra subsidy of 25¢ per kWh — and that subsidy will increase every year, until it exceeds 50¢/kWh!”
        Honestly, I don’t even know where to start debating someone who thinks those kind of numbers are relevant on a global scale for currently built capacity. Come on skeptics of WUWT, correct your fellow skeptic?

      • “renewables killing jobs” is not within the energy industries.
        The concern for jobs is that crazy renewable mandates and inefficient solar and wind (not base load power) will drive up energy costs (Obama told us electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket) and force industries that use lots of energy (steel, semiconductor manufacturing) to go out of business or relocate to countries with cheaper energy.

      • RWTurner, when a persons religion requires them to not understand something, you can usually count on them not understanding it.
        Over and over again.

    • Ben,
      How can you type with those blinders on?
      Oh wait, you aren’t wearing blinders, you just “misreport” on what you see.
      You can’t get anything right, yet you don’t have any trouble with spelling or sentence structure…
      Let’s see… could you be fibbin’ to us to support some agenda?
      Are you yet another paid propagandist showing up here?

    • benben,
      What??? Do you understand economics at all? Wait, the answer’s obvious. NO. The solar industry did not replace the jobs lost to oil and gas. They co-existed. Now, solar is going to need to pick up many, many more jobs to cover oil and gas, raise wages and lose their subsidies. All of which is economically impossible without the government forcing people to double their cost of electricity. You’re in favor of that, I take it?
      The ONLY time you can count renewable as “grid level” is when they are NOT attached to the grid. It’s a complete lie to say anyone attached to a grid is not using oil or gas (in most cases). Virtually no one connected to the grid is using renewables only. It’s a convenient falsehood often used by those who think magically concerning solar and wind.
      The “extremely rich oil elite” consists of thousands of hard-working people providing lights and fuel to America, many of which are now unemployed. Of course, class envy and math illiteracy convince the not-to-bright that oil and gas are somehow elitist. Maybe if people could actually think and not emote, they’d understand this. Envy and laziness are just so much easier.

      • with grid level I meant utility scale renewables delivered to the grid.
        The ‘extremely rich oil elite’ does not consist of unemployed people. I mean, come on. It’s like you’re debating your fantasy green fanatic instead of me. I’m talking oil sheiks, Koch brothers, Vladimir Putin, et al.
        And as remarked above, the LCOE of wind is comparable to fossil fuels, so clearly if you replace fossil fuels with renewables in a gradual manner (i.e. replace old fossil fuel generating capacity with renewables), then the price would not increase. Until you reach such high levels that you’d need storage, but we are not even remotely there yet so no need to worry about that for another decade at least.

      • benben
        “Until you reach such high levels that you’d need storage, but we are not even remotely there yet so no need to worry about that for another decade at least.”
        Finally, the truth is admitted. Renewables can only appear to exist favourably while piggy-back riding on the spare capacity in the grid. Once they reach a level where they would be missed there is a “storage” issue.
        So nice to know that they are “irrelevant” in production terms. Shame that we all have to pay for these irrelevancies through our energy bills.

    • benben May 26, 2016 at 8:41 am
      Hi. So, clever boy, how much oil do we the USA import these days from the Mid-East? Next the Brits, Australia, and Canada. Actually, who is importing Mid-Eastern oil? Come on, put up or shut up.
      Next, research the Tax liabilities between the two forms of energy production. Oh, and by the way at some point the fossil fuel companies are going to realize that the subsidizes of renewables violate a whole mess of international trade agreements on subsides and dumping. It will make for some interesting court cases, once one nation realizes it can sue another due to its renewable policies.

      • And how much income inequality does your newfound oil riches cause in the US? Now you have US based oil-sheikhs. Congratulations, you win the prize!
        There are already anti-dumping tax measures in place for solar panels.

      • Wow, poor benben is still upset that people are permitted to have more money than he does.
        Nobody is hurt because some people are allowed to keep the money they have earned.

      • And here we see the true goal of the econuts. It isn’t about wealth and prosperity; it’s about dragging everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Watermelons like benny don’t care about solving poverty or *gasp* allowing free people to freely trade amongst themselves. His ilk’s (ill’s?) goal is simple: command the world into equal misery. That’s the only fair solution.

      • “And how much income inequality does your newfound oil riches cause in the US? ”
        I suppose you have a point, because “I mean, come on,” in the stone age there was very little income inequality. There were still the haves and have-nots, but it was certainly less in absolute terms than in the US today. The chiefs probably had a few extra spears and all, but in general you could say that everyone had very close to the same wealth. Wow, I didn’t know sophism could be so fun.

      • benben answers a question with a question:
        And how much income inequality does your newfound oil riches cause in the US?
        That’s not an answer. But benben has no credible answers, he only has his catechism.
        This has zero to do with income inequality. If benben cares so much about that, he can split his welfare check with another bum. And since benben is so jealous of oil company profits, he can buy a share or two of Exxon, and… profit!!
        Also, I note that benben’s comments are often in the middle of the day, in the middle of the workweek.
        He needs to get a real job.

    • actually what the top chart shows is the large number of layoffs in the oil&gas sector since the price crash, and the large numbers of layoffs in the coal fields as company after company goes bankrupt because of government hostility to coal powered electricity generation.
      Anyone living in an area where oil production/exploration are top job makers knows of the boom/bust cycle that has been going on in the industry since it’s beginnings. Right now we are in a bust, and a lot of my neighbors are part of that downward slope.

      • So, that’s how renewable energy caught up to fossil fuels…it didn’t.
        Fossil fuel jobs were reduced until they dropped to match the renewable workforce.
        Sneaky how greens do that, ain’t it?

    • Typical socialist. Wants everyone to concentrate on the one small part of the picture that doesn’t make him look bad, and ignore the rest of reality.
      Yes, jobs are being created in the solar/wind sc@m. The jobs that are being lost are in every industry that has to buy the now unaffordable electricity, or whose company had to move to a new country where the power supply was more predictable.
      I see that benben is still repeating the lies about grid stability that were refuted months ago.

    • 4x as costly for Solar and Wind versus Conventional power. Use NPV (Net Present Value) versus IRR (Internal Rate of Return). Calculate all costs in terms of subsidies, externalities to the “marketplace,” … …
      The accounting on most solar and wind is fraudulent. You are already seeing this with Solar City, Tesla… You need at least an 8 year run with project Peter robbing project Paul to get too positive cash flow by my estimations. Then you need a little bit of luck to go along with it. Any raising of finance rates in the Lease-buy-back programs will bankrupt a project upon refinance, when, the initial investors use up the tax breaks. Initially under the Obama regime, it appears to me companies exaggerated engineering, planning, legal, supply chain… to exaggerate costs while milking the Treasury and Farm programs set aside for these boondoggles. This creates a secondary problem as projects drop in price: You need to build more and more projects of Peter robbing Paul to cover the losses as the begin to roll in from initial, more expensive, projects in which all tax breaks have been consumed. (eg. the rat has to run faster and faster on the wheel to stay solvent). O&M has been understated as is now being realized, and, margins are very thin to boot. That being said, I advocate continued research and small scale development for the day we might need these technologies.

  20. Is it possible that each of these solar energy employees creates less energy than they consume driving to work? That would be the ultimate irony and very typical of any government sponsored enterprise.

    • I’d bet that’s accurate more often than not. In particular given the propensity of wind and solar installations to be in remote areas far from population centers.
      And it’s just about guaranteed to be true if you factor ALL the energy costs of wind and solar installations vs. the energy they produce over their useful life span. From mining of materials needed for their construction to manufacture of the panel/windmill components to transport of the materials and manufactured components to the site to erection of the installation to maintenance and repairs, including the fuel consumed by the fossil fuel powered vehicles that transport the people doing the repairs and maintenance to the installation sites from their places of residence. No way that the energy that is produced by such installations is close to the energy that goes into them.
      The ultimate example of what occurs when governments pick the winners and losers (the ultimate losers always being the taxpayers).

  21. The taxpayer who is subsidizing ‘renewables’ I guess should be added on as wind-solar part time employees too?

    • Gary Pearse May 26, 2016 at 8:58 am
      The taxpayer who is subsidizing ‘renewables’ I guess should be added on as wind-solar part time employees to?
      Don’t say that, or even think that. Good god man what if the government hears you. “Why yes, what a wonderful idea, now lets tax him on it and make him file IRS tax forms and pay Social Security.

  22. David:
    Your presentation lacks clarity and presents some extremely odd pictures.
    Whenever I see a straight line growth, over time, I immediately think fudge. Your presentation of the growth rate for wind and solar jobs looks like it is from some straight line growth number, not observations.
    Then you present a chart that is somewhere between exponential and large multiplier. Even if you are trying to ‘show’ the oil industry employees, it is incorrect.
    It would be better if you converted it to equivalent oil energy per employee.
    Plus there are many hidden jobs in the eco industry. Jobs that the eco industry is very desirous of obscuring as their number would highlight glaring problems and inefficiencies. e.g. maintenance crews that are contracted in or the temporary employees who collect bird and bat carcasses before the ‘official’ counts.
    The substance of your argument is correct; the sheer costs and inefficiencies of alleged renewables are untenable., even exorbitant.

    • The numbers are what they are. The “straight line graph” is from the Bloomberg article. The oil industry job numbers are from the BLS.
      MTOE is a measure oil “equivalent oil energy.” The MTOE per employee is equal to 1/Employees per MTOE. 1/166 is a very small number. 1/39,402 is a much smaller number.
      If it helps, I can convert MTOE to BTU…
      BTU per employee (2014)
      Solar 1,007
      Oil & gas 238,689

      • OK. We can lay the blame for misrepresentation of data on the Bloomberg propaganda machine.
        There is no such thing as a straight line in employment figures! As soon as one sees that straight line, it means the numbers are estimated, i.e. fudged.
        Every annual/decadal employment cycle shows the effects of season, workload, opportunity, worker supply and economy distress. When it shows up a straight line, especially growth, something is not accurately representative.
        Your ‘short time cycle’ for oil and gas employees is not as straight as Bloomberg’s solar. Even there, that employment chart is a combination of actual reports and estimations. Any actual oil and gas company’s employment chart would show much wider swings over the course of a year.
        The first MTOE chart has employees for the left index.
        The second MTOE chart, where you ‘show’ oil and gas employees; The left index is logarithmic.
        Take the level where oil and gas’s 166 employees reach.
        By implication, falsely, the solar employees appear to contribute equally to the oil and gas.
        Yes the chart is logarithmic, quick glances do not convey that information.
        Perhaps Bloomberg does show MTOE per employee somewhere, but I don’t visit Bloomberg sites.
        Here on this site:
        • Solar should show that each solar employee is worth 25.38TOE. (Another number that appears too optimistic, that straight line nonsense).
        • While oil and gas MTOE, each employee is worth 6,024.1TOE. Meaning that every oil and gas employee brings the world 237.37 times more energy than any solar employee.
        As eco-energy installations age and expand, those numbers for solar TOE per employee will decline. There is very little if any employee effort reduction benefits to solar installation efforts. But, as equipment ages there will be a decline in energy captured and additional requirements for maintenance.

      • The first MTOE chart has employees for the left index.
        The second MTOE chart, where you ‘show’ oil and gas employees; The left index is logarithmic.
        Take the level where oil and gas’s 166 employees reach.
        By implication, falsely, the solar employees appear to contribute equally to the oil and gas.
        Yes the chart is logarithmic, quick glances do not convey that information.
        Perhaps Bloomberg does show MTOE per employee somewhere, but I don’t visit Bloomberg sites.
        Here on this site:
        • Solar should show that each solar employee is worth 25.38TOE. (Another number that appears too optimistic, that straight line nonsense).
        • While oil and gas MTOE, each employee is worth 6,024.1TOE. Meaning that every oil and gas employee brings the world 237.37 times more energy than any solar employee.

        The MTOE charts are mine, not Bloomberg’s. Bloomberg never mentions MTOE or any other measure of productivity. The y-axis on both charts is denominated in Employees per MTOE. The first one is linear. The second one is logarithmic. I explain in the post why I added the logarithmic version.
        I am certain that Bloomberg painted a grossly over optimistic picture for solar. Yet even with their data, the typical oil & gas employee is 237 times as productive as a typical solar worker.

  23. The government could hire 1 million people to dig holes, and another million people to fill them in.
    And it would have the same impact on the economy.

  24. Ultimately, nuclear powerplants are the way to go. The radioactive wastes can be made harmless with the proper management. What’s not to like?
    Government-promoted Renewables are more trouble than they are worth, and a huge waste of taxpayer money. They are a diversion from forming a realistic, nation-wide electric power plan.

    • Yup. The U.S. should be building molten salt reactors in mass numbers. And conducting scientific research into cold fusion. Those represent real solutions (MSRs) and real possibilities (CF) to meet future energy needs. “Renewables” are just a stupid government boondoggle.

  25. Luke asks, ‘Where is all the money associated with producing electricity with fossil fuels going if it isn’t going into jobs? ‘
    I suggest he does an online Economics 101, which will begin with the factors of production: land, labor and capital.
    He will learn that modern industrial economies are more capital intensive than traditional economies. The study of microeconomics may be reserved for Economics 102, but his professor may present outlines of specific sectors, such as energy. She will explain that the energy sector is very capital intensive relative to the economy as a whole. As a consequence, value added per worker is high and so are skill levels, wages and salaries.
    Since renewable energy adds so little to the economy, it will probably not be part of the course. But he can ask his question. The professor will probably mention the cash flow for the capital employed in producing power (depreciation, interest on bonds, taxes, dividends). If she does not, then he can find the information in the Value Line Investment Survey, which periodically does sector reviews.
    The generation of jobs in subsidized industries is a favorite topic for many economists. If included in his course he will learn how subsidies distort the economy by promoting patterns of production different from what would arise if consumer preferences had determined what is produced.
    In effect, a regime of subsidies is a top-down approach to determining production rather than a bottom up approach by which consumers determine production. This top-down approach is better than the old Soviet approach, which used production quotas. But when applied to the energy sector, it nevertheless represents a great departure in the way the US economy works. This is because energy drives the whole economy.
    Certain promoters of top-down control of the energy sector both in the UN and the US are quite open about the objective, which is to reduce drastically the standard of living in developed countries by de-industrialization through raising the energy prices. In effect, these modern Luddites and Pol Pots claim that they will preserve the natural world by dismantling modern industrial civilization. Democracy may have to suppressed to achieve this.
    Which explains their opposition to fracking and the efforts to hobble this activity by regulation.
    Because natural gas has only one atom of carbon to four atoms of hydrogen, natural gas is our best route to a low-carbon economy. And it is the biggest challenge to the political elitists who believe they know what is best for consumers.
    Natural gas is now so cheap and plentiful and so low in carbon that the climate scare loses its force. There is now no reason to suppress natural gas consumption or to favor renewables over natural gas.
    What is needed is more focus on the carbon footprints of solar, wind and bio-fuels.For a start, wind and solar take lots of energy to manufacture, build and operate. Bio-fuels use lots of energy to produce and transport.
    All three renewable fuels use lots of land, labor and capital compared with the energy they produce.
    Neither science nor economics supports wind,solar or bio-fuels. Politics has trumped science and economics. We are about to see if the American people will allow the economy to continue to degrade or whether they will play their Trump card.

    • “What is needed is more focus on the carbon footprints of solar, wind and bio-fuels.”
      i disagree completely – but go ahead- the result will be cap and trade just like in Australia.
      that’s right, carbon based life form- your breath will be taxed no matter who says what and you will pay because you have no concept of anything but obedience and you will perform the religious ritual of the voter and ‘pray’ for hope and change every time the morlocks sound the siren.
      like the farmers in iowa do their corn and bean rotation, you will do your whine and vote – but never will you stop paying the tithe. and so who cares what you think? your job is to pay. the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is you will pay and complain, rinse, repeat.
      and it will be the same as it ever was – but you will keep doing your bit to keep the death spiral going.

  26. The word “clean”, “renewable”, etc. should be in quotes. It’s not clean or environmentally friendly from recovery to reclamation. The drivers are renewable, not the technology. It is a good source of local, intermittent energy production; and a good source of regional, intermittent, low-density energy production. The marketing hype and people’s need to believe in a harmonious existence exceeds the reality. Their faith is misplaced.

  27. As for actual job (i.e. production, productivity) creation, it’s better for people than expansion of the public and private welfare industry, when it is based on a real and sustainable premise.

  28. The next target of cost reduction in solar PV is balance of system costs (BOS) from installation time and construction manpower needs, at least in utility scale projects that make sense. Hyping solar employment is really hyping unproductive rooftop solar with major tax credits as a percent of total project cost. Tax credit mining is a big business that does not take “no” for an answer, as seen in the whining by NRDC and Solar City in Nevada.

  29. And here we have the prime case demonstrating that the Left is really just filled with economic creationists. Greed energy (no typo) will always be labor intensive as this shows, which means that it will always be expensive. It simply cannot match the productivity of truly viable sources of energy. The only way it can compete is by declaring its competitors witches.

  30. How long do the crews stay on the hot job sites? Is there a workers’ comp provision for green heat strokes?

  31. So it now takes more people to produce less energy. This is progress? Sadly if you’re a democrat, or a socialist, or a democratic socialist, the answer is probably yes. And, as if this weren’t already a stellar enough achievement all on its own, the intermittent and unreliable energy that is produced is expensive to boot and problematic to manage! Thank you sir, may I have another?

  32. A politician goes to an engineer and tells him that he needs a large ditch dug. The engineer tells him that he can do the job with one person with a backhoe or it will take 30 people with shovels or 300 people using spoons.
    The politician will pick the third option because it creates more jobs.

    • There’s an old story about Alan Greenspan visiting China. He saw a ditch being dug by hundreds of men using shovels.
      He commented that the same job could be done in less time with a backhoe.
      The foreman responded that doing it this way employed more people.
      Greenspan responded that they could employ even more people if they replaced the shovels with spoons.

  33. I never thought I would see the day that socialism would become part of USA.

  34. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    In Oklahoma, we know what the energy sector means. We also innately know how efficient the oil and gas industry is. Our state booms and busts with each cycle of oil prices. We whine when gasoline prices are high, but we all prosper then. We all rejoice when gasoline prices go down, but then we start noticing the pinch most everywhere else.
    Wind and solar don’t help, but plenty of politicians and interests groups make the case anyway. Solar just isn’t up to the challenge of large scale power production. It never will be. It is, needing only more time to mature, useful, and it will be significant in specialized applications. Wind, however, is just a waste. It is good for lonely pumping stations. That is about it.
    We must continue with coal, and we must embrace nuclear. It isn’t our only hope; it is the only possibility. It is the only thing that keeps our children alive long enough to know their own great grandchildren.

  35. Yes, oil patch jobs dipped in 2015 because the price of oil dropped below the profitability of drilling but now at $50/barrel the numbers are coming back up. A family member who had been out of work for months in the western US oil patch was just recently called back to work.

  36. So from an opportunity cost vantage point, 99% of the working day in the solar energy industry generates nothing. It’s an unemployment support scheme.

  37. I am a farmer and I have a great idea. Let’s hire 100,000 people to pick corn by hand. Think of the diesel fuel we would save and all the employment created! Using more green inefficient energy will lower our standard of living, but it is all worth it so we can keep the oceans from rising maybe a mm or 2. I better stop or the DOJ will be after me.

  38. I always found it bizarre that having to hire 100 times more people to produce the same amount of energy is a point of pride, rather than a concern.

    • Pretty much the same people also believe that by forcing people to pay more for products that are made here, vs somewhere else, will improve the economy.
      What they fail to realize is that everyone who is now paying more, now has less money to spend on other things.
      Additionally, such a move makes all of our exports more expensive.

      • Which is why you have to force Americans to buy more expensive American-made, union-label products. Socialism and populist protectionism are two sides of the same counterfeit coin.

  39. I’m pretty certain there are more shovel operators employed than backhoe operators …

  40. I’m just wondering, as a skeptic who checks on things, if David Middleton is the David Middleton of Twin Butte Energy, Ltd. from Alberta Canada who shows up in top results of a simple search.
    There were no credentials provided, so I was worried that an employment article that didn’t even mention all the jobs in wind energy might be biased – since this guy just focuses on the more-costly solar, while wind energy is booming in the Plains States – and jobs are there and in the manufacturing sites around the country..

    • I am not that David Middleton. The Bloomberg article focussed on solar. My post focussed on the nonsensical Bloomberg article.

      • Wind works OK where it works. Utility scale solar sort of kind of almost works in very few places.
        Coal works everywhere. Natural gas works wherever you can build pipelines. Nuclear works everywhere that people aren’t stupid.
        I don’t work in the solar, wind, coal or nuclear industries. I do consume electricity and I like paying less than $0.12/kWh.

        • I like paying less, too, though I spend far less for electricity than for data plans. I’m buying my electricity from a wind-power source and paying $0.099 per kWh here in Chicago. So wind is cheap.
          And while gas prices dropped here in the US due to fracking, solar prices have continued to drop worldwide, as the solar cell technologies continue being improved constantly, economics of scale are working, and as deployment prices drop, too.
          Drop to the point where big projects for utility-scale solar are coming in under 10 cents/kWh. Like 3 cents in Dubai, without subsidy. Like 7 cents, including 2 cent Federal subsidy, in Austin Texas.
          I’d pay more for my electricity, because the add-on costs of coal are very expensive. Natural gas is inexpensive, but it sure was difficult supplying enough in the Northeast during that very cold winter a couple years ago, and the price of electricity from gas peaker plants is very high, too.
          And you ignore the need to reduce greenhouse emissions.
          But your point about “if you can build a pipeline, natural gas works” is equally correct for utility-scale renewables. HVDC transmission lines connecting the three US grids, and connecting population centers with remote generation will do much to smooth the small-scale fluctuations of individual wind farms or locally cloudy solar farms.
          Aggregated renewables will also help the utilities wean themselves from a lot of those natural gas peaker plants by smoothing peak demand, or by shifting western midday solar towards the east during their evening peak.
          And of course, rooftop or distribution-level solar helps to keep power on while transmission lines are down – local resilience gets a lot more focus after Sandy.

  41. I wouldn’t expect a snarky comment from a moderator (see below). Yes, I produce more than 100% of my electricity needs with my solar panels.
    RWturner I do put my money where my mouth is. I own an electric car and I have installed solar panels that cover all of my electricity usage.
    [All? .mod]
    [“see below”? Right now point your comment is the last one. -another mod]

    • “Luke May 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm
      RWturner I do put my money where my mouth is. I own an electric car and I have installed solar panels that cover all of my electricity usage.”
      Even the telecoms etc and web servers across the internet as well? You must have one hell of a system installed to produce more than you need.

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