Biomass generates most jobs in renewable energy

By Anna Austin
Posted June 3, 2009, at 1:17 p.m. CST

Biomass, wind and hydro are the most important technologies to generate jobs under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive, according to a study recently conducted on behalf of the European Commission's Directorate-General Energy and Transport.

At the end of 2008, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union agreed on the RED, which commits EU member states to achieve a 20 percent share of renewable energy in the country's energy consumption by 2020, and to cut carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.

Several different economic models were used for study assessments, including input-output model MULTIREG, which was used to observe the effect of developments in the renewable energy sources (RES) sector on other economic sectors.

In general, the study assessed the economic effects of supporting the RES, looking at jobs in the RES sector as well as its impact on all sectors of the economy.

The report found that more than 60 percent of total RES sector employment generation is due to biomass technologies. The major share of employment is triggered by the supply of biomass for fuel use. The study points out, however, that the share attributed to biomass is subject to uncertainty because significant amounts of biomass for non-grid use do not appear to be purchased at market prices, rather they are obtained from the producers own resources or informal channels. Therefore, it is assumed that 50 percent of biomass obtained by private households is purchased at market prices.

The recent strong growth in comparably low-cost biomass and onshore wind projects needs to be sustained, as the technologies are expected to generate most of the near-term future RES production, employment and economic growth, according to the study.

It was also found that improving current policies so that the target of 20 percent RES in final energy consumption in 2020 can be achieved will provide a net effect of about 410,000 additional jobs to the estimated 2.8 million in the RES sector, as well as a 0.24 percent additional gross domestic product.

To view the report, visit