Paul Gipe of Grist recently had a post on a great story from Ontario that I thought our readers would love to see on here. The underlying point is that Ontario’s feed-in tariffs for solar photovoltaics are going to create tens of thousands of solar jobs for just the cost of a donut a month (yes, just your standard donut, nothing special). Not bad. This is what a new report on the matter by ClearSky Advisors has found.
ClearSky Advisors found that, “by 2015, Ontario’s solar PV industry will have created 72,000 person-years of jobs.” 72,000 person-years of jobs or 60 donuts… you choose.
I’m sure opponents have cried over and over and loud and clear that this program would cost taxpayers a fortune, so it is great to see someone conducting a study on the matter and telling people: “actually, this is a good, efficient program well worth the cost.”
Of course, this report isn’t just about the feed-in tariff program, but is also about the region’s larger Green Energy and Green Economy Act as well, which is getting plenty of green energy haters all wound up. But the feed-in tariff program is a critical piece of that Green Act, which is supposed to help Ontario close all its coal-fired power plants in four years.
With the report predicting that the region will install 6,000 megawatts of solar PV by 2021, as well as utilizing other renewable energy sources, that looks like a realistic goal (and one many regions should be working towards).
“For comparison,” Gipe notes, “California is expected to have a total installed capacity of 800 megawatts and the U.S. 1,700 megawatts of solar PV by the end of 2010.”
Why is More-Costly Solar Such an Economic Win?
Solar supposedly costs more than nuclear or coal per kWh of electricity, right? So, how can solar be such a good choice economically for Ontario? Well,.. take job creation into account and you’ve got your answer.
ClearSky’s summary suggests that this policy may in fact work as intended at creating new jobs. The report says solar PV creates 12 times more jobs than nuclear per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated and 15 times more than coal.
ClearSky calculates that while investment in solar PV results in 30 percent to 40 percent as much electricity as investment in conventional sources, the investment in solar PV pays dividends in job creation. According to ClearSky’s summary, investment in solar PV creates 2.4 to 6.4 times more jobs than a similar investment in conventional sources.
Solar energy is a job-creator. And in social, health and environmental benefits and you’ve got a pretty clear answer as to why Ontario is favoring solar energy.
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Photo Credit: kmaraj via flickr (CC license)
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