Employment

The employment effect of this scenario is a crucial factor to weigh alongside its other costs and benefits. High unemployment rates continue to be a drain on the social systems of many countries in the world. Any technology which demands a substantial level of both skilled and unskilled labour is therefore of considerable economic importance, and likely to feature strongly in any political decision-making over different energy options.

A number of assessments of the employment effects of wind power have been carried out in Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. the assumption made in this scenario is that for every megawatt of new capacity, the annual market for wind energy will, as of 2010, create employment at the rate of 14 jobs (person years) per MW installed in that year through manufacture, component supply, wind farm development, installation, transportation, as well as indirect employment. As production processes are optimised, this level will decrease, falling to 13 jobs per MW by 2020 and 12 by 2025. In addition, employment in regular operations and maintenance work at wind farms will contribute a further 0.33 jobs for every megawatt of cumulative capacity.

Under these assumptions, more than 600,000 people would have been employed in the wind energy sector in 2009. Under the reference scenario, this figure would decrease to just 463,000 jobs in 2010, then slowly recover to reach 524,000 jobs by 2020 and 809,000 by 2030.

In the Moderate scenario, the wind sector would become a powerful jobs motor, providing 'green collar' employment to more than a million people by 2015 and 1.3 million five years later. by 2030 the wind industry would employ 2.6 million people worldwide.

The Advanced scenario would see the employment level rise rapidly to 1.4 million as early as 2015, almost reaching close to 2 million jobs in wind energy by 2020 and going beyond 3 million by 2030.