When we talk about building a future based on more renewable energy, we usually think of cleaner production, replacing fossil fuels, overcoming dependency on highly volatile fossil fuel prices, fewer emissions and other issues which might sometimes seem abstract. But there is another face to the transition to renewable energies, one which witnesses the concrete benefits first hand – the human face.
For many people across Europe, the clean-tech revolution is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing a sustainable energy system; it’s also about having a decent job to go to each morning. To highlight this aspect of the energy transition, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Revolve cooperated on the Renewables in Action exhibition to show workers on projects around Europe.
While unemployment, particularly with youth, has steadily increased throughout the EU in recent years, the renewables sector continues to grow and provide people with new prospects in a time of economic crisis. According to latest data, the renewable energy sector employed about 1.2 million people across the Europe in 2011. This represents an increase of 3% on the 2010 figure – an achievement few other sectors can claim in the same time period.
Much of the renewable energy industry’s recession robustness can be attributed to the success of the EU’s binding 2020 renewable energy targets which have provided the sector with much needed predictability in times of uncertainty. Due to such dedicated policies, it is expected that by 2020 there will be 2.7 million people working in the renewable energy sector across Europe.
However, in an industry with long investment cycles, 2020 is just around the corner and right now the EU is considering how best to move forward with energy and climate policies towards 2030. This is why EREC has just released its Hat-Trick 2030 publication [see page 45], which outlines the economic, social and environmental benefits for EU citizens of ambitious 2030 targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions.
EREC would like to thank its members for their contribution to this project and Revolve Magazine for its steadfast work. The Renewables in Action project breaks down the barriers between the conceptual and the actual by giving policies on renewable energy and climate change a tangible, real world expression.