New Study Concludes Renewable Energy Will Create More Jobs Than Fossil Fuels in Virginia

Virginia State BirdIn a recent study prepared by George Mason University (GMU) of Fairfax, Virginia, for the Virginia Conservation Network, the authors concluded that a renewable energy mix would create 100,000 more jobs than a fossil fuel mix, for the same level of electricity production.

The 2010 Virginia Energy Plan estimates that Virginia's additional need for energy in the next 25 years will increase by a total of 19,448 MW, and that half can be produced by solar, biomass, on-shore wind, and off-shore wind, and the other half by coal and natural gas.

The GMU study included two renewable energy production scenarios. The economic gains of the renewable energy scenarios range from $13 billion to $20.8 billion, significantly higher than the economic gains from oil and gas estimated at $7.8 billion.

The number of green jobs created by the renewable energy scenarios (108,000 to 172,000 jobs) are also significantly higher than the number of jobs created by oil and gas (64,000 jobs).

Under a law enacted in 2009, Virginia's Voluntary Energy Portfolio goal is to produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2035. To help meet the goal, Virginia has created a range of incentives, both to producers and consumers, including a Solar Manufacturing Incentive Grant, a Property Tax Exemption for Solar Equipment, a Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program, and a Green Jobs tax credit.

Virginia will have a similar problem as California to educate a workforce in renewable energy construction, installation, and operation. In a recent report, the authors concluded that the educational institutions of California are not meeting the demand for qualified workers in the solar installation segment.

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