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Claim: the job-creating potential of clean energy is “where we get stuck a bit”

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to proponents, union awareness of workers being fired by text message halfway through projects is undermining the green energy promise of secure jobs. But some government green energy jobs are secure.

Clean energy can create good, secure jobs, but can industry convince workers of that?


The clean energy industry needs to do more to communicate its vision for gold class, secure jobs with attractive salaries to cultivate worker confidence in the industry, according to union leader Michele O’Neill.

Speaking at a Clean Energy Council event along with Dr Andrew “Twiggy” ForrestDr Rebecca Huntley and other experts, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions called on the renewable energy industry to do more to bring workers along for the ride.

“What’s your vision to make renewables the best place to work in the country, to attract workers with high paying conditions, to build confidence that workers can rely on these jobs into the future?” O’Neill pressed the panel. 

“The renewable energy industry needs workers in its corner to achieve the scale it needs to solve the climate crisis.”

She said job security remains a concern for the industry, with the unions aware of large scale solar projects ending construction midway through and notifying employees of their dismissal via text message. This is not to say that there aren’t well paying, secure jobs in the industry, she said, including inside the publicly owned energy utilities in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.  

“Without government developed and funded transition plans we’re asking workers to take a huge leap of faith and that’s an unreasonable ask.”

Read more: https://thefifthestate.com.au/energy-lead/energy/clean-energy-can-create-good-secure-jobs-but-can-industry-convince-workers-of-that/

If only workers would ignore the reality of high profile large scale project failures and job instability, and get onboard with living inside the glorious clean energy transition vision, they would understand that their jobs are actually really secure. Oh, and the government has to throw in more money for training schemes.

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August 18, 2021 2:14 pm

First, they’d have to get past the concept that they’re making the system more inefficient, meaning it’s gonna be more expensive for everyone concerned. So the system now has increased costs, which means something’s going to have to give or these good paying Green energy jobs are just going to suck the life out of all other positions. Which is exactly what’s happened around the world.

Reply to  Spetzer86
August 18, 2021 6:23 pm

Twiggy has made the vast majority of his considerable fortune riding the wave of recent demand for iron ore. What better way to get wealthier than stoke the demand for the monuments to the wind that China builds using his iron ore. These are incredibly resource hungry devices that can never form the basis of a sustainable economy.

Reply to  RickWill
August 18, 2021 8:21 pm

Yes. Twiggy has made it perfectly clear where his loyalties lie (and that isn’t Australia) including sending plane loads of PPE to China at the start of the pandemic.

Reply to  RickWill
August 18, 2021 8:46 pm

interestingly twiggy pays his FFI workers better by making his FMG workers have less pay for the priviledge

Value transfer from the profit business to the huge loss making business

But hey is at least giving it a go rather than Woodside who is telling everybody they have a new energies business but want the technology for free and tell everybody they are technology agnostic (dont have an F.. clue about what they want) but are going to build a solar array maybe

Rud Istvan
August 18, 2021 2:15 pm

The basic reason green jobs are insecure is that renewables make no sense without subsidies. And subsidies are subject to political whim (hence mid project Aus renewable project cancellations, or Solyndra in the US). Pretending otherwise does not change the basic reality. Green lamentations are so fun to enjoy because so pathetic.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 18, 2021 2:39 pm

And the CEOs of such projects/companies such as Solyndra don’t go bankrupt when the projects/companies do.
They have the “jobs” that rake in the “Green”.
The workers?
“Let them eat grass.” – The Green New Deal

Jim G.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 18, 2021 5:36 pm

Paying more while receiving less only makes sense when there are subsidies.
Who in their right mind would pay more for electricity to have it available less.

Oh wait. Never mind…

Reply to  Jim G.
August 18, 2021 6:01 pm

Paying more for less is the definition of inflation. Since the world economy depends on inflation to pay its debts instead of allowing efficient economy to build prosperity, don’t expect anything to change.

Just charge everything and promise to pay later. Service the debt until you can’t while waiting for the bailout when politicians pander for your vote.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 19, 2021 4:56 am

It sounds like Poppy Johnston is just lobbying for the government to guarantee some jobs for the unions.

August 18, 2021 2:19 pm

Shouldn’t we all be doing our moral duty and breaking more windows? One a week each – that will create more jobs.

Major Meteor
Reply to  philincalifornia
August 18, 2021 2:42 pm

Reminds me of a Ryan Long (comedian) who was an Antifa member at night and in the day time replaced windows. Pretty funny Youtube video.

Reply to  philincalifornia
August 18, 2021 3:14 pm

Or building windmills by hand 😉

Reply to  Derg
August 18, 2021 3:39 pm

Or by hoof, as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Reply to  philincalifornia
August 18, 2021 8:48 pm

according to economists breaking windows adds work but in reality to the man on the street destroys GDP (adds GDP if an economist) as he has paid money to replace an item he had and gets nothing in return

michael hart
Reply to  philincalifornia
August 18, 2021 10:15 pm

I’d like to see an anonymous (of course) poll of politicians, asking them what they think politicians ought to be doing, how much time they spend actually doing that, and whether there too many (or too few) politicians for the job required.

And then, why they think that politicians do these tasks better (or worse) than the other people who might otherwise do these same tasks. I’m saying this just to totally rag on politicians, but to get them to think and explain what they really see as their place in the world such that others might see.

michael hart
Reply to  michael hart
August 18, 2021 10:17 pm

edit: should be “I’m not saying this..”

Bill Toland
August 18, 2021 2:29 pm
Reply to  Bill Toland
August 18, 2021 6:43 pm

However importantly it does make a lot more jobs in China.

Reply to  LdB
August 19, 2021 3:01 am

And no cost to China! (Slave labour doesn’t cost much)

Ron Long
August 18, 2021 2:30 pm

The comments about political whims reeling back and forth are visible in many aspects of commerce and government these days. Judging from the first 7 months of the Biden administration in 3 years and 5 months there will be a cataclysmic change. We are forced to wait for it. Counting the days.

Martin C
Reply to  Ron Long
August 18, 2021 9:10 pm

Ron, I suspect there will be a ‘sufficient enough’ change in just over 1 year and about 2 1/2 months . . . 🙂 ; even if the 25th amendment is exercised . . . 🙂

geez, what a crazy world we are in right now . . . NEVER would have thought this even 1 year ago . . .

. .may God help us all . . . 🙂 🙂

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Martin C
August 19, 2021 5:06 am

This is what happens when the President of the United States is delusional.

It’s time to put in the troops and go get the stranded Americans in Afghanistan. Biden should tell the Taliban to pull back outside of Kabul and allow the Americans and others there to get to the airport. And if they don’t, then the U.S. has to send in troops and move the Taliban out. Yes, people will be k!lled, but what other choice is there?

This Afghanistan fiasco has to be the worst decisionmaking in American history. The president, vice persident, Defense Secretary and State Department head should all resign, and go hang their heads in shame.

And I keep hearing people say “we” abandoned Afghanistan, or “the U.S.” abandoned Afghanistan. No! It was Joe Biden who abandoned Afghanistan. Unfortuntely, he happens to be president, and so can make such a huge mistake all by himself.

Biden has ruined millions of people’s lives over his political career because of his delusional thinking and now he is going to add untold numbers of innocent people to that list. And it didn’t have to happen. All because of one Fool.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 19, 2021 5:17 am

I think what I would do in this situation is I would tell the Taliban to pull back outside Kabul, and if they don’t then I would do what President Trump threatened to do, which is I would tell them if they don’t pull back, I would bomb every neighborhood where the Taliban leadership lived into rubble.

If they didn’t pull back then I would do the bombing and see if this changed their attitude, and if not, then in go the American troops in sufficient numbers to gain control of the situation. It wouldn’t take much, the Taliban are not ten feet tall. They just haven’t faced any resistance up until now, thanks to Biden.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 19, 2021 5:22 am

USA and NATO “intervened” in Afghanistan for decades without serious intention to actually conquer the country and put it under an American or European governor at least long enough until Islamism, if necessary even Islam itself, has been successfully drummed out of the populace. The same half-assed “strategy” that had failed in Korea and in Vietnam already. Fighting a war to gain nothing will not make any man fight enthusiastically enough to defend an enemy who is determined to gain everything.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  AlexBerlin
August 19, 2021 3:54 pm

The goal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan was to wipe out Al Qaeda, with a secondary goal of preventing Afghanistan from becoming a base for terrorism directed at the United States.

It doesn’t require conquering Afghanistan or wiping out Islam there, all it required was what we were doing up to the time Joe Biden put a stop to all of it, which was to maintain the status quo.

I don’t know why you include Korea as a failed strategy. It has worked out very well for the South Koreans.

J Mac
August 18, 2021 2:46 pm

Given all of the negatives associated with ‘clean energy’, searching for positives becomes an exercise analogous to looking for the best side of a turd.

Iain Russell
Reply to  J Mac
August 18, 2021 3:05 pm

Crude, but correct!😁

Reply to  J Mac
August 18, 2021 6:25 pm

Or polishing the turd!

August 18, 2021 2:50 pm

I still want to know what a “green” job is.

Some guys pouring concrete foundations for a wind tower is the same job as the same guys pouring concrete foundations for a fracked gas well or an oil rig.

The concrete doesn’t care what the application is – it took exactly the same emissions to make it for the wind tower as it did for the oil rig.

And eventual clean up is going to be just the same too.

Mark Kaiser
Reply to  Mr.
August 18, 2021 5:31 pm

I can’t tell you what a green job is. But I can tell you what a green vehicle is.

Reply to  Mark Kaiser
August 18, 2021 8:44 pm

Now that’s the ticket. Or this, my next vehicle:

comment image

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Mr.
August 19, 2021 6:30 am

Actually, no.

Pouring the windmill foundation is a make-work “job” created by stupid government policies that benefits nobody but the wealthy and politically connected “rent seekers” making bank on the boondoggle at the expense of others. It creates nothing of value and in fact creates something destructive – just check the contents of the pickup trucks that regularly haul away the bird and bat carcasses after the windmill enters service, and the soaring electric bills, brownouts, blackouts, and reduced economic activity, health detriments and even deaths that result from the government mandated and subsidized use of wind ‘power.’

Pouring the oil rig foundation allows a useful resource to be obtained and used, and contributes to economic activity and prosperity without taxpayer victimization or wealth transfer boondoggles.

So NOT the same.

bill Johnston
August 18, 2021 3:14 pm

Since most of the jobs in the Green Energy field are construction, by definition they are not permanent.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  bill Johnston
August 18, 2021 3:37 pm

Unless you assume renewables will be built out to eternity. A few problems with that assumption. Like the problems intermittency and lack of grid inertia pose as renewable penetration increases. OTH, they only last about 20 years, so there are lots of possible green replacement jobs in the future—IF the needing replacement installations don’t fail economically first. Oh, dear!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 18, 2021 5:50 pm

And then there’s the green jobs “created” by the demolition of the useless constructs of the previously “created” green jobs during their construction once the taxpayers’ green runs out.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 19, 2021 6:31 am

I guess if you only need to work for a short time every 20 years you’re all set. Oh wait!

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
August 19, 2021 7:46 pm

I will work if it’s open

John Bell
August 18, 2021 3:24 pm

Three different visions of the future: (by Robert Crumb)
comment image

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Bell
August 18, 2021 5:14 pm

RE: 3rd panel.
Ask the former residents of Paradise, California how that living in the forest and houses surrounded by trees turns out.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 19, 2021 11:14 am

I did. They moved out of state to a nice desert community with very few trees–after losing a family member in Paradise. They live alongside many recent arrivals from LA, Seattle, MN, MI, WI, NY, and MD. The builders can’t keep up and prices of homes shot up.

Gunga Din
Reply to  John Bell
August 18, 2021 6:28 pm

RE: 1st panel.
“Ecological Disaster”? Nope.
“Green New Deal Disaster”? For sure.

navy bob
Reply to  John Bell
August 18, 2021 6:44 pm

R. Crumb has always been a fan of big-legged women, and I noticed a couple in ecotopia.

Reply to  John Bell
August 19, 2021 11:17 am

Where is the panel with the neighborhood Chinese police station and nearby labor camp?

Reply to  John Bell
August 19, 2021 6:56 pm

Trump was right without raking the forest you will have forest fires
need to control forest fire fuel

August 18, 2021 3:26 pm

That big sign should read, “WINOS.” “Homeless” is just a euphemism to prettify the reality and create political sympathy. Though there are genuine homeless, the major problem is alcohol, along with drugs and insanity. Providing housing will never solve the problem; addicts and alcoholics are a bottomless pit of neediness. Unless the addiction and insanity are addressed, the problem will continue. Many in the HOMELESS, INC. industry want it to continue, keeping them employed and full of pride in their well-meaning, but useless sympathy.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 18, 2021 10:00 pm

Hear, hear

Peter Morris
August 18, 2021 3:34 pm

What was that old Soviet joke?

“We pretend to work in these factories, and they pretend to pay us.”

Too bad for you, Australian comrades.

August 18, 2021 3:44 pm

Union leaders. Always the first to see a way into any new industry to exploit the workforce for union dues to keep the union leaders in the um, green.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 18, 2021 6:46 pm

That is because a lot of union members work in those dirty old jobs.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 19, 2021 5:59 am

My experience with unions (railroad) is that the union leadership is in bed with the companies which doesn’t bode well for the union peons.

The union bosses will support union members in small things, but they won’t support a union member going hard against the company itself.

That’s just one union, though. I can’t speak for other unions and how they operate, but human nature is pretty predictable just about everywhere.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 19, 2021 6:38 am

I have a bit of similar experience. The union leadership during my brief tenure was selling out their new members to protect “privileges” (claims) for the “old heads” who made up much of the “local” union leadership.

The union essentially did nothing but take the money of the workers and encourage nepotism and the protection of the lazy and stupid at the expense of those who gave a shit about their jobs.

Ironically, I’ve never been treated worse by an employer than that one time when I was “union represented.”

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 19, 2021 10:35 am

Various family members of mine have reported similar things with their unions. Grocery. Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s like that with all of them. (Except for public workers, especially teachers)

August 18, 2021 5:14 pm

I suppose they will always need people to clean PV panels or solar concentrating mirrors, unless the plant goes bankrupt like Crescent Dunes.

August 18, 2021 5:21 pm

The green energy projects are creating new jobs — in China.

Jim G.
August 18, 2021 5:34 pm

Sounds like the old adage:

Customer: “I want a high quality, low cost product right away!”

Business: “Ok, pick two.”

August 18, 2021 5:54 pm

The cost of a good or service is the sum total of the payments paid to the workers & owners (taxes are paid to gov which pays for workers etc., same end result). If green jobs are for green benefit only, it would not increase the travel or net energy consumption. So if non-green workers, homes & industries travel the same distance & have the same temperature set at home, what is the real cost to go green?
If renewables create more jobs for less money & the same annual power generation (than fossil fuels), either:
1) the green jobs are each worth less; or
2) it costs more in reality, thus disproving their claim; or
3) creates less jobs in reality, thus disproving their claim.

The only mathematics & economics their good at, are knowing that convincing others to pay millions for climate action is good for their businesses & aggrandisement (feather your own nest & fluff yourself up).

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  tygrus
August 19, 2021 6:45 am

“Green jobs” by definition destroy real jobs and degrade living standards, because they use more people and incur higher costs to deliver the same product less effectively.

The notion that they are a “good thing” for an economy is as stupid as the suggestion that taking away bulldozers, backhoes, graders, dump trucks, and tractor shovels from construction workers and replacing them with spoons and buckets is “good” for an economy because of how many “jobs” it will “create.”

Vincent Causey
August 19, 2021 12:17 am

There can only be well paid jobs here if the payments are extracted from the tax payer. This is no more a recipe for prosperity or sustainability than money printing. The outcome will be the same as for the USSR, which wasted its resources on a pointless arms race.

August 19, 2021 12:42 am

Well in the UK there are 4 times the numbers of jobs in green industry that there are in traditional manufacturing…

and the problems described above don’t exist. I suggest if real they are the problem of local political and economic systems.

The USA is these days far behind the rest of the world in innovation and infrastructure, for example

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  griff
August 19, 2021 4:53 am

Griff you really are unbelievably dumb if you really believe the nonsense you spout.

Reply to  griff
August 19, 2021 6:56 am

As of Today, there are an estimated 90,000 Green jobs-.26% of all
Manufacturing jobs stand at 35.27 Million overall manufacturing jobs.

Green is the Glorious Gift of Money.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
August 19, 2021 7:00 am

In case you missed it on a thread the other day.

Wind Europe Press Release 1 Oct 2019 re Germany (one of your favourites)

“And it’ll mean Germany loses even more jobs in wind – on top of the 35,000 already lost since 2015”

Press release ‘New distance rule could rule out new onshore wind in half of Germany’

Leo Smith
August 19, 2021 1:21 am

The Liberal perspective: We will make everything expensive by employing lots of workers on low wages to not be very productive…so they all get poorer.

The Conservative perspective: We will employ robots to do it all, thereby generating more wealth for less man hours work so everyone gets rich and has a leisurely life.

Bruce Cobb
August 19, 2021 4:39 am

The concept of “green jobs” is beyond absurd, and Orwellian in nature. Because what “green energy” does is to destroy a perfectly good part of the economy, replacing it with something that both costs much more, and is unreliable. The pretense is that they they are creating jobs, when they are not. They pretend that it is for the future, but if it is, it is a dark one, because it is a move backwards. They pretend that “we need to be at the forefront of the “green industry, or we risk being left behind”. It’s the old marketing ploy of “buy now, while the deal is still good”, and “while supplies last”. It’s the biggest scam ever invented.

August 19, 2021 6:30 am

“The renewable energy industry needs….. to achieve the scale it needs to solve the climate crisis.”

That will never happen. Every “renewable energy” attempt is faced with the fact that trying to draw energy from evermore dilute sources quickly runs out of results. The base level for renewables is the 0.3-0.5hp(around .373kW) one body can produce in one square meter. That makes human effort about equal to the electric power produced, per square meter, of “renewable” energy such as biomass, wind power, or solar power.
Look to the Dims and Psychocrats for the next step in human evolution- stationary bicycles with generators attache.

AGW is Not Science
August 19, 2021 6:59 am

First of all, there’s nothing “clean” about “clean energy.” Unless you ignore the trees felled, the landscapes spoiled, the birds, bats and insects massacred, the degradation of health of those who live near wind farms, the unknown and completely ignored potential effects on the weather (irony!), the massive tracts of land required that could be more productively used or provide wildlife habitat, the massive amount of mining needlessly done to provide what we already can get more reliably at less cost from other sources, the toxic waste left behind or landfilled when the shorter than promised useful lives of the “clean energy” generation equipment is over, or the fact that the entire boondoggle is 100% dependent upon the very “fossil fuels” it is supposedy a “substitute” for.

Second, the “jobs” related to “clean” (NOT) energy are by definition worth less than the jobs related to useful energy production (e.g., fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro), because they are more labor intensive and less productive – which in turn means they will pay less and provide a lower standard of living.

The only people who could be convinced that “clean energy” will produce “good jobs” are the deluded idiots that think “clean energy” is viable to begin with. If the labor force is skeptical, that speaks to them being smarter than the people pushing this mass lunacy give them credit for.

Bruce Cobb
August 19, 2021 10:10 am

An example of a “green” job would be taking perfectly good ICE cars and crushing them.

August 19, 2021 10:26 am

The US example is pretty straightforward to understand the green job creation con game. It is the high-cost, labor-intensive (rooftop solar) segment of the solar industry that drives the main part of the lobbyist-politico push on the media messaging. Meanwhile the low-cost leaders in solar ride along while focusing on some of the most high-tech robotic manufacturing plant investments in the world for use in utility scale projects. The same goes for robot-intensive Chinese panel assembly factories, excluding the forced labor camps that contribute about half of the global polysilicon ingot components with coal-fired power plants.

First Solar, Inc. – First Solar Breaks Ground on new $680m, 3.3 GW Ohio Manufacturing Facility

So the great renewable energy jobs push is another mind game with hollow results in the end. This is not a case of “who could have known” but one of “we don’t really care about reality or obvious industry trends to make our point.” Competitive, non-political sectors will just have to work harder and emit more CO2 to make up for this con game.

August 20, 2021 1:57 pm

Who needs a good paying job when Joe’s handing out free rent, increases in food stamps, and everything else you could want? Seems to me this is a moot point. Cops quit, nurses quit, everyones’ going home. FedEx and UPS can’t get drivers. And we’re OK with that. I can’t a problem here…….

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