Is the Renewable Energy Conversion Really Effect on Employment?

Can renewable energy be an alternative to the ‘job evaporation’ triggered by the climate crisis?

This is the question before 25,000 regular and non-regular workers at coal-fired power plants in Korea. The government seems to believe in the possibilities. It seems likely that coal-fired power plant workers will be converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) combined cycle power plants and accepted as front and rear employment such as renewable energy construction and parts manufacturing, and facility operation and management workplaces in the electricity transport process such as transmission and distribution.

After looking at various studies and statistics, there is a prospect that renewable energy can create new jobs to some extent. Looking at the employment effect of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) through global analysis in 2015, the employment effect of jobs such as coal-fired power plant operation and maintenance was 0.14 people, whereas solar power had 0.7 people, offshore wind power 0.3 people, and onshore wind power was 0.14 people. 0.2 people. Biomass is 1.5 people. However, this figure is a summary of OECD member data for 2011 and 2012. It is not significant as a statistic because it covers the level without considering the circumstances or technology of each country.

There is another optimistic outlook. This is the annual report on renewable energy and jobs published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). According to this report published in October last year, there will be 12 million workers in the renewable energy sector in 2020, an increase of 500,000 from 2019.

However, it is difficult to see how fast it is. Based on statistics, in 2016, five years ago, renewable energy jobs were counted as 10.1 million. 10.5 million in 2017, 11.1 million in 2018, and 11.5 million in 2019. That’s an increase of 1.9 million jobs worldwide over the past five years.

Regionally, it is not uniform. As of 2020, 39% of all jobs are in China. In addition, the employment effect of renewable energy power plants has not been clearly revealed in Korea. In short, when comparing the Honam thermal power plant, which stopped power generation at midnight on the last day of last year, and the Tamna offshore wind power plant in operation, employment in the renewable energy sector is expected to be about half. While Honam Thermal Power Plant employs 320 people while producing 500 megawatts (MW), it is estimated that the number of employed people is expected when the generation of the Tamna Offshore Wind Power Plant, which currently produces 30 megawatts and employs 10 people, is projected on the basis of 500 megawatts. is 167 people.

Lee Jeong-hee, head of the labor-management relations research division at the Korea Labor Institute, said, “It is difficult to emphasize that the comparison is accurate because it does not take into account various conditions.” explained. This means that empirical investigations and research on labor transformation as well as renewable energy and job prospects are needed.

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