Keywords: employment, wind power, coal power, job years, policies, mandatory renewable energy target, manufacturing industries location, clean energy, coal mining, wind energy, Australia
Comparison of employment potential of the coal and wind power industries
Australia, one of the world's largest producers of coal, is used as a case study to compare the employment potential in the coal and wind power electricity generation industries. It is revealed that, as a result of automation, employment in the coal mining industry fell by 45% between 1987 and 2002. Moreover, as a result of the restructuring of the electricity industry as a whole, employment in the industry plunged by 50% during the 1990s. By serving as a substitute for coal power, the wind power industry, with 50% local content in dollar terms, already creates two to three times the number of direct, local job-years per kWh generated than coal power. If an expansion of the Australian content of a wind power were to be facilitated by appropriate government policies, this ratio could be expected to double, thereby indicating that a shift towards 'cleaner' energy sources need not come at the expense of employment.