By promoting innovation in renewable energy sources (RES), the European Union could see a gross domestic product in 2020 that’s about 10 per cent higher than would be expected under a “business as usual” approach, according to a new study carried out on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport.
The study, the first ever to assess in detail the economic effects of supporting RES, also found that strong RES policies would promote better job growth in the EU. The authors projected a potential gain of 396,000 to 417,000 employees by 2020, compared to business-as-usual expectations of 115,000 to 201,000 new employees.
According to the study, the jobs and economic benefits vary by technology, with biomass and onshore wind developments generating the best growth in the short term.
“Recent strong growth in comparably low-cost biomass and onshore wind projects needs to be sustained, as these technologies are expected to generate most of the near-term future RES production, employment and economic growth,” the study states. “More innovative technologies such as photovoltaic, offshore wind, solar thermal electricity and second-generation biofuels require more financial support in the short term, but it is precisely these technologies that are key to achieving the EU’s 2020 RES target and higher shares in the future, to maintain the EU’s current competitive position in the global market for RES technologies and to increase employment and GDP in the midterm.”
“This shows that benefits of renewables in terms of security of supply and fighting climate change can go hand in hand with economic benefits,” said Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s Energy Commissioner.