Solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as coal? And this is good?

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It is remarkable how often we hear the claim that “the solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as coal”. And, more often than not, as a cause of celebration.

The latest to make the comparison is Josh Bayliss chief executive officer of Virgin Group, in a free advert article in the Telegraph yesterday:

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/06/trump-never-grasped-paris-agreement-deal-not-threat/

As we know, many, probably the vast majority, of these jobs are involved with installing solar panels, and therefore will be transitory.

But to the extent that these jobs are permanent, just what does that tell us?

Solar power output in the US was just 9 Mtoe in 2015, 0.4% of total energy consumption. On a pro-rata basis, if the US relied solely on solar, the industry would be employing 650 million people, double the entire population!

In comparison, coal production equated to 455 Mtoe.

I have said this before, but I am at a loss to understand how otherwise intelligent people, like the boss of Virgin, lose all semblance of common sense and reality, whenever climate change is mentioned.

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Comments (3)

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    Sonnyhill

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    There’d be lots more solar jobs, but solar panel manufacturers pocketed the government subsidies and declared bankruptcy. Drive by an operating solar or wind farm and count the workers. Invisible jobs.

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    MCPR

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    By solar-panel logic, think how many people we could employ building “infrastructure” if we just had them use spoons instead of bulldozers. A few people running a single steam-electric or gas turbine power station produce a lot more useful power than all the solar-panel workers in the country.

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      Rhee

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      Your logic pointed me to an oblique link to what happened in China about 7-8 years ago when it experienced a massive snowstorm, the biggest in over 50 years. I recall it because my wife got stuck there during the storm. The entire province of Hunan was closed due to deep snowfall which blocked all roads and railways. Because China, at that time, had very little mechanized snow removal, the solution was to activate entire PLA divisions – giving each soldier a snow shovel and instructions to march into Hunan, digging out the roads and rails along the way. Over 30k soldiers were “employed” to clear the roads. By solar-panel logic, this was a monumental achievement for China, they put 30 thousand men to work on a problem. I’m betting a whole bunch of those soldiers would have loved to have some mechanized snow plows rather than marching hundreds of miles with a shovel.

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