Inderscience Publishers

Comparison of employment potential of the coal and wind power industries

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

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.

Keywords: employment, wind power, coal power, job years, policies, mandatory renewable energy target, manufacturing industries location, clean energy, coal mining, wind energy, Australia

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