March 31, 2009
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Chris Tucker 202.346.8825

Running of the Bull: U.S. “Green Jobs” Rhetoric Runs Smack Dab Into Hard Lessons From Spain

New Report Finds “Green Jobs” Spending Cost Spain Hundreds of Thousands of Real Jobs, Decades in Lost Opportunity

WASHINGTON, DC – As evidence continues to mount of the potential for a “green jobs”-focused recovery plan to raise energy prices here at home and cost American workers their real jobs in the process, a new study released this week in Spain found that for every “green job” created by the Spanish government over the past decade, 2.2 other jobs were killed as a result.

The report, written by Dr. Gabriel Calzada of Juan Carlos University in Madrid, comes as policy-makers in the U.S. House convene a hearing today to “examine green jobs and their role in our nation’s economic recovery.”

Institute for Energy Research (IER) president Thomas J. Pyle issued the following statement subsequent to the report’s release:

“President Obama has cited Spain as an example to be followed for how our country can achieve long-term growth if we just commit ourselves down a path of a massive, long-term subsidization of ‘green jobs.’ But if that’s really the model on which the president’s basing U.S. policy, we may be in for a longer, deeper and more severe recession than previously thought.

“As this study makes clear, Spain has spent billions in taxpayer resources to subsidize renewable energy programs in an effort to jumpstart its ailing economy – and what they’ve gotten in return are fewer jobs, skyrocketing debt and some of the highest and most regressive energy prices in the developed world. Now, as U.S. policy-makers prepare to embark Americans upon a similar course, this report offers our first realistic glimpse into what we should expect in return for that unprecedented sacrifice of public resources and personal autonomy.”

“The study’s results,” Dr. Calzada wrote in the paper’s introduction, “demonstrate how such ‘green jobs’ policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil. … This study marks the very first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made.”

The following represent some of the study’s key findings:

  • The U.S. can expect 2.2 jobs to be destroyed for every 1 renewable job financed by the government.
  • Only 1 in 10 of the jobs actually created through green investment is permanent.
  • Since 2000, Spain has spent €571,138 ($753,778) to create each “green job,” including subsidies of more than €1 million ($1,319,783) per wind industry job.
  • Those programs resulted in the destruction of nearly 113,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
  • Each “green” megawatt installed destroyed 5.39 jobs in non-energy sectors of the Spanish economy.
  • The total over-cost—the amount paid over the cost that would result from buying the electricity generated by the renewable power plants at market prices—between 2000 and 2008 amounts to 7,918.54 million Euros ($10 billion).
  • The total subsidy spent and committed to these three renewable sources amounts to €28,671 million ($36 billion).
  • Consumer energy costs in Spain would have to be increased 31 percent to repay the debt generated by the green jobs subsidies.

NOTE: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Spain’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 50 percent since the nation began its aggressive push to subsidize and support “green jobs.”

More from IER on the fallacy and unintended consequences of “green jobs”:

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. IER maintains that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to today’s global energy and environmental challenges and, as such, are critical to the well-being of individuals and society.


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