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Biomass Brings Jobs to UK

A new report out of the U.K. this week estimates job creation in the country’s bioenergy sector to exceed 50,000 by 2020.
By Lisa Gibson | April 27, 2012

A new report out of the U.K. this week estimates job creation in the country’s bioenergy sector to exceed 50,000 by 2020.

“U.K. Jobs in the Bioenergy Sector by 2020” found that biomass heat is by far the biggest area for job creation, up to 30,000 by 2020. And more than half of them would be permanent. Biopower could offer up to 18,000 in the same time frame and anaerobic digestion has the potential to create another 2,500. The majority will most likely be in technical roles, primarily engineering and construction, the report says.

But the supply sector brings in jobs, too, in the areas of feedstock production, harvesting, processing and haulage. Those are dependent, though, on the level of uptake, origin of the feedstocks and the supply chain structure used.

While the report is helpful and promising, I am surprised at the number. Fifty thousand doesn’t seem like enough, when considering the enormous demand in the U.K. for wood pellets alone. During the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Denver, Colo., April 16-19, one speaker showed a pie chart depicting the five countries with the largest wood pellet demand in the world. The U.K. made up 70 percent of the overall demand from all five. That’s astonishing.

According to the Alliance for Green Heat, supplying 25 percent of the heating demand in the Northeast U.S. with biomass by 2025 would create more than 140,000 jobs. And Germany has created 95,000 new jobs in the bioenergy sector. Granted, we are looking at different time frames among these countries and 25 percent of the heating demand in the Northeast U.S. is gargantuan.

But regardless of the number, the bottom line is biomass, heat in particular, holds the most promise for job creation of any renewable energy resource. And we need those jobs. So let’s get cracking.

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