Clean Energy is in the eye of the Beholder

It was interesting to note two articles appearing on the same day (June 23, 2021) had wildly conflicting information on the benefits and harm of eliminating fossil fuels in the electricity generating sector.  The article in the Financial Post was headlined: “Canada’s clean energy push to create more than 200,000 jobs by 2030: reportand cited a new dispatch from Clean Energy Canada (CEC) of Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Navius Research, an outgrowth of SFU and Professor Mark Jaccard. Professor Jaccard is full blown in his belief the world is doomed unless we achieve “net-zero” emissions and was cited in a CBC article stating: “Fossil fuels are wonderful except for destroying the planet“. 

It is fascinating the eco-warriors, in the CEC report, use data on a continuing basis that is impossible to verify. As an example, the CEC report suggests “Canada’s clean energy sector already employs 430,500 people—more than the entire real estate sector—and by 2030, that number is projected to grow almost 50% to 639,200 under the federal government’s new climate plan.” The foregoing 430,500 (already employed) appears to be a number picked out of a hat as the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario back in December 2020 issued a “policy brief” and in it noted; “electric power, generation power and transmission” employed 104,315 people in 2019. So, one should ask, where are those 430,500 people, actually employed?  One example the CEC report suggests is; “Jobs in electric vehicle technology are on track to grow 39% per year, with 184,000 people set to be employed in the industry in 2030—a 26-fold increase over 2020.”

According to Unifor as of August 2020 current employment in the Canadian automotive industry is “129,000 people in Canada, in vehicle assembly (44,000) as well as body and trailer (13,000) and parts manufacturing (72,000). Factoring in various other auto-dependent jobs and workplaces, some estimates peg the overall number of direct jobs at over 188,000”! Apparently, according to CEC and Navius, it is a foregone conclusion 184,000 jobs in 2030 somehow translates to a 26-fold increase over 188,000 in 2020 instead of a loss of 4,000 jobs! The foregoing should remind all Ontario ratepayers how, when former Ontario Energy Minister, George Smitherman, responded to a question in the Ontario legislature as to how the Green Energy Act would create 50,000 jobs said; “Across the landscape of these investments, we feel quite confident that 50,000 jobs will be created.” As we Ontarians know those jobs never materialized but electricity rates inceased well over 100%!

The second article on June 23rd in the National Post was titled: ‘Solar trash tsunami’: How solar power is driving a looming environmental crisis.   The article spelled out; the problem with solar panels as it turns out, is significant!  The article notes: “Put simply, we can expect a lot more solar panel waste within the next decade than we are prepared for,” wrote a team led by Calgary-based supply chain researcher Serasu Duran in a pre-publication paper.” The study tried to estimate the tonnage of solar panels set to hit landfills and warned if the solar industry doesn’t get a handle on its trash problem, “we may soon face the dark side of renewable energy.” IREA (The International Renewable Energy Agency) in 2016, noted by 2050 the world would need to deal with up to 78 million tonnes of solar panel trash. In order to wrap your mind around that; consider the City of Toronto manages more than 786,000 tonnes of residential waste each year (1% of what IREA estimate solar panel waste will be) and in 2020 diverted 413,673 tonnes of residential waste from landfill through several programs. Solar panels are not part of that diversion!

The report from Duran suggests IREA’s number is a vast underestimate because it assumed the world’s existing solar panels would remain bolted to roofs for 30 years but they estimate millions of people will replace those panels to install cheaper and more efficient ones. The report suggests by 2030 solar waste could be 50 times higher then IREA’s estimate which would equate to about 39 million tonnes.

Perhaps what the CEC report suggests is the 200,000 jobs “clean energy” will reputedly create by 2030 may be related to recycling solar panels.  Perhaps some of those jobs will also be involved in grinding up IWT (industrial wind turbines) blades that are each 120 feet or longer so the fiberglass, etc. can be mixed with cement rather than being dumped in landfills as they are currently. 

The report by Duran, et al, in a recent review of their research for the Harvard Business Review suggests “the solar industry could be generating 2.5 tonnes of waste for every tonne of solar panel it installs”.

The foregoing may require CEC and Navius Research to revise their report as more jobs will be needed to recycle that increased solar panel trash and grind up those wind turbine blades!

Now we know the real value of what the eco-warriors claim is “clean energy”!

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

2 thoughts on “Clean Energy is in the eye of the Beholder”

  1. Thank you Parker for another powerful article supported with numbers.
    It is sad that it cannot be understood by our esteemed political leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

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