Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 17 Feb 2012

Creating jobs in the energy efficiency field – not an easy job, but worth it

Energy efficiency initiatives create jobs, and normally very good jobs.  Recent analysis shows that between 17 and 19 net jobs can be created for every million euros spent.  That is a million euros from all sources.  And since the analysis shows that energy efficiency activities are more labour-intensive than manufacturing, decision-makers should pay close attention.  The leverage of public and private funding is often five to one and some even estimate ten to one, meaning 1 million euros of public money can lead to investments of between five and ten million euros.  That means between 85 to 190 jobs for 1 million euros of public money.  By comparison, the renewable energy industry in Europe creates an estimated nine jobs per million euros.

Jobs can be created relatively quickly if extra funding is provided to existing programmes or funding facilities.  For example, the KfW bank in Germany, one of the global leaders in funding energy efficiency projects, has the kind of infrastructure and pipeline that would make it feasible to put an extra €100 million to use quickly. In other cases, new programmes would have to be developed before the public could benefit from extra funding.

The start-up process could take a considerable amount of time before financing could be made available for new programmes such as the Green Deal in the UK or the Energy Efficiency Obligations (EEOs) that are being discussed as part of the draft Energy Efficiency Directive, which has experience only in in a few Member States.  The Green Deal is expected to become operational later this year after a development phase that has taken a couple of years.  That is a normal developmental time, based on the ramp-up time of countries that have energy efficiency obligations. But the development phase means a delay in realising fundable projects and the jobs they bring with them.

In the context of the Energy Efficiency Directive, there will be an implementation “experiment” in about 20 member states for the EEO because they have no experience in that area. Ramping-up will probably be slow but once these energy efficiency obligations are fully operational, job creation could be quite significant.

Furthermore, a proposal for deep renovation on 3% of public buildings above 250 m2 every year would almost certainly have a slow rate of implementation at the beginning, but would produce good efficiency when up and running.  Doing a deep renovation on such buildings will require complex analysis to determine the optimal measures to install.  That will require architects and designers to work together with equipment providers, financiers and the like.  That will not happen quickly, unless the planning for those projects has already taken place.  And a deep renovation takes more care than a normal renovation.  The building constitutes an entire system, with all elements installed to the highest standard.  That means that workers will most likely require training, especially if a 3% target is to be achieved.

Care has to be taken not to over-estimate what can be accomplished in the short term.  The future is clearly positive but only if all the right pieces are put in place.  Poor results could hurt the credibility for a generation. For maximum impact of an Energy Efficiency Directive there must be a parallel jobs strategy to ensure a comprehensive approach to implementation.

Jobs to improve energy efficiency in all end-use sectors are of high value.  Many require technical qualifications, such as engineering or architectural degrees.  Many require re-training from existing jobs. There will be a demand for financial specialists, construction engineers, behaviour specialists, project managers, auditors, data base managers, policy analysts and the like.  And these jobs are available to all, regardless of age or gender.

The hard work of creating these jobs begins once the Directive is finally approved.  The long-term policy framework needs to be in place and the funding and implementation strategy need to be well developed. But in the longer term, opportunity is knocking at the door, and it deserves a welcome mat.

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rod Janssen

Oct 2016

Apr 2016

Nov 2011