Is sustainable development a source of jobs in Europe?
The strong development potential of renewable energies in Europe and more particularly in France should create many jobs. The only remaining doubt concerns the support that political decisions will provide to consolidate this development.
Didier Mayer, president of the European Renewable Energy Council, said in an interview with Actu-Environnement that the renewable energy market, whose growth rate reaches 40% per year for wind power and photovoltaics, could generate 1 million jobs in Europe by 2010. For France, projections range between 75 new jobs, according to the renewable energies union (SER) and 000 according to the MITER report (Monitoring and modeling initiative on the targets for renewable energy). Today the number of people employed in this sector is only around 243.000.
Renewable energies are both an opportunity to strengthen a rural activity threatened with dwindling (half of the small farmers have disappeared over the past ten years) and an opportunity to develop new industries facing the world, remarks the president of the SER, André Antolini in the SER publication of last March.
Wind power is the energy produced from the force of the wind on the blades of a wind turbine. When the wind starts to blow, the forces that apply to the propeller blades cause the rotor to rotate. The electrical energy thus produced can be distributed to the electrical network by means of a transformer.
French wind potential is the second in Europe after Great Britain. but it is currently Germany, Denmark and Spain which concentrate nearly 90% of European employment in the wind turbine construction sector, indicates the SER. The Spanish Minister of the Economy announced that nearly 60000 jobs had already been created in Spain by the wind industry between 1997 and 2003, he adds.
According to the European professional associations EWEA AEBIOM, EPIA and ESIF, wind energy helps create 15 19 to jobs per MW of installed capacity.
The SER estimates that in 2010, if France manages to generate investor confidence in its development policy for the sector (which we can still doubt), around 60% of jobs created by the manufacture and installation of wind turbines on the territory, will be French jobs.
Today, 2 industrial jobs have been created or maintained in France thanks to the development, however still modest, of wind energy, particularly among French machine manufacturers (Vergnet, Jeu mont, Cita, etc.) but also and especially among component manufacturers (Rollix, Leroy-S omer, Alstom...).
In addition, during this same year 2010, wind energy investment is estimated at around 3 billion euros (corresponding to the installation of 1 MW onshore and 758 MW on the sea). The SER considers that this would translate into a net creation of 660 jobs by 20000.
According to BTM Consult, by 2010 European manufacturers will invest at least 50 billion euros in wind turbines which will be added to the 25 billion already invested. BTM Consult even estimates that the global annual investment of 8 billion euros in 2003 should double by 2010, reaching a level equivalent to nuclear investments, estimated between 10 and 16 billion euros per year on average by 2030. .
EurObserv'ER indicates that the European sector today employs, directly and indirectly, more than 80.000 people in the European Union and estimates that it will have created more than 280.000 jobs between 2000 and 2010.
The wood energy sector
Recent studies on the subject show that the wood energy sector today represents some 25.000 full-time equivalent jobs. Energy wood produces 9 million toe / year. It is the first of the thermal renewable energy sources. i> The development prospects of this sector represent around 20.000 job creations in the coming years, underlines the president of the SER, André Antolini
The biofuels sector
Biofuels, considered to be a renewable energy source, refer to fuels of plant origin (rapeseed ester for example). There are two main classes of biofuels:
- Alcohols, obtained from crops rich in sugar or starch (sorghum, beet): biothanol (ethanol) which can be used at 100% as a replacement for gasoline. The largest users of ethanol are Brazil and the United States.
- Oils, obtained from oleaginous seeds (rapeseed, soya, sunflower): ester of vegetable oil. The fluidization of the oil makes it possible to obtain what some call Biogazole, others Diester, still others bioDiesel. All of these trademarks cover a single product: oil methyl esters. Oils and oil esters replace diesel fuel. According to the European Biodiesel Committee (EBB), 1,7 million tonnes of biofuel were produced in 2003 (+ 30%), including 1,4 million tonnes of rapeseed oil-based biodiesel. The EBB expects production to double in the short or medium term and assesses existing production capacities at 2,2 million tonnes. Germany was the leading producer of biofuel in 2003, with 715.000 tonnes (+ 59%), followed by France (360.000 tonnes) and Italy (210.000 tonnes). The French Petroleum Industries Union (UFIP) declares itself to be in agreement with the European directive on biofuels which provides that their share will increase in 2005 to 2% and in 2010 to 5,75% of the total consumption of gasoline and fuel. diesel. In addition, it recommends focusing efforts on the development of biodiesel (rapeseed diester).
The European production (EU15) of the two sectors, biodiesel (82,2% of biofuels) and bioethanol (17,8%), represented 2003 tonnes in 1.743.500 (equivalent to 1.488.680 toe). According to the figures usually retained (10 jobs per 1000 tonnes of biodiesel, 6 jobs per 1.000 tonnes of ethanol) the number of jobs created or maintained in 2010 would be 19.500 to 33.000 depending on the scenarios. According to the European Commission, a proportion of 1% of biofuels in the total consumption of fossil fuels creates between 45.000 and 75.000 new jobs in rural areas.
The solar thermal industry
Solar thermal energy is the energy recovered from sunlight by glazed solar thermal collectors to provide direct heating of water and premises. The heat concentrated by the panels is transferred to a heat transfer fluid. Four square meters can meet the hot water needs of a family of four, for an average investment of 3 euros, and ten to twenty square meters provide heating for a single house. Additional heating remains necessary for the most unfavorable climatic periods.
The development of this sector has so far been mainly based on three countries, which represent 80% of the market: Germany, Austria and Greece. France is aiming for the objective of one million m2 installed per year by 2010.
In 2004, it should have installed around 75000 m2 of thermal solar collectors on its territory, half of which in the overseas departments. The total jobs created in France in 2010 would be around 10500 for the SER.
The solar photovoltaic industry
Photovoltaic solar energy refers to the energy collected and transformed directly into electricity from sunlight by photovoltaic panels. The photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839 by Antoine Becquerel, grandfather of Henri Becquerel who discovered radioactivity in 1896. It results from the direct conversion in a semiconductor (silicon, CdTe, AsGa, CIS, etc.) of a photon into an electron. In addition to the advantages linked to the lack of maintenance of photovoltaic systems, this energy perfectly meets the needs of isolated sites whose connection to the electricity network is too expensive.
The European Union's White Paper recommended reaching 500000 solar roofs in Europe in 2010, a volume of activity that would represent nearly 60000 jobs. Today, the photovoltaic sector in Europe represents nearly 15000 jobs and a turnover of around one billion euros. The objective of the White Paper of 3000 MW in 2010 will remain difficult to achieve in view of the 572 MW installed today. A very realistic objective of 2000 MW in 2010 would already represent around 50000 jobs in Europe by this time.
The Renewable Energies Union prudently anticipates around 2 new jobs in this sector before 500, stressing that this figure could be multiplied by five, in the event of a more proactive policy.
The biogas sector
Biogas is the gas produced by the degradation of organic matter (including paper-cardboard and natural textiles) in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic). Relative to the ton of garbage, the emissions vary, according to the estimates and the composition of the waste, between 100 to 400 NM3 / ton.
Biogas includes methane (50 to 65%), carbon dioxide (35 to 40%) and other trace gases (especially malodorous sulfur and mercaptan based). The presence of methane confers a high PCI (Lower Calorific Value) on the biogas (approximately 0.25 TOE). According to the UK Department of Calorific Energy, the PCI of methane is 38 MJ / NM3, that of landfill biogas is 15 to 21 MJ / NM3.
It can therefore be used for the energy operation of the unit or, after purification, as fuel for suitable vehicles, or even be integrated into a natural gas distribution network. At present, two uses are proven industrially: combustion in a boiler (heating), or in an engine producing either electricity, or heat and electricity in the case of cogeneration.
The objectives of the European Union's White Paper, ie 15 million toe in 2010, remain relatively beyond the reach of current efforts. If this sector plays a significant part in the balance sheet of renewable energies, it creates few specific jobs, says the union.
Geothermal energy or heat from the earth is in the form of reservoirs of steam or hot water, or even hot rocks. When the geothermal reservoir is at a moderate temperature, this resource is exploited for the production of heat distributed by a heating network. It is particularly developed in the Aquitaine and Parisian basins for district heating. When the temperature of the geothermal reservoir is higher and allows the production of steam, it is possible to produce electricity.
In 2010, we can aim for a target of 400000 installations - the equivalent of the Swedish fleet in 2001 - and a pool of around 10000 permanent direct jobs.
The president of the SER concluded that the various sectors of renewable energies constitute a source of diversified jobs, able to accommodate all skill levels in all regions of France.