[New York Times] At its peak in 2008 and 2009, the wind industry employed about 85,000 people. About 10,000 of those jobs have disappeared since, as wind companies have been buffeted by weak demand for electricity, stiff competition from cheap natural gas and cheaper options from Asian competitors.
Analysis by EMP researchers points to higher “soft costs” as the primary explanation for a wide disparity in the installed costs for residential photovoltaic systems here and in Germany.
In wind-rich counties from Texas to North Dakota, installations of wind turbines increase total personal incomes and create jobs, according to research conducted by EMP economists and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
EMP researchers sounding a cautionary note on banking on financing alone to accelerate energy efficiency. Their report shows that financing can, in some cases, increase the leverage of public dollars. In most cases, however, it is not able to drive demand to the same degree as direct incentives like rebates and so cannot be expected to replace other incentives in the current marketplace.
Despite the onset of an economic recession, the U.S. energy services company industry managed to grow at about 7% per year between 2006 and 2008, according to EMP researcher’s definitive report on the industry. ESCOs anticipated accelerated growth through 2011 (25% per year).
Residential behavior-based energy-efficiency programs have been identified as a potential major source of new energy savings. A new report and presentation by EMP researchers provides guidance on methodologies for rigorously estimating those savings.