Spain looks at renewable energy for a way out of joblessness

by Antonio Pasolini on September 24, 2009

Climas en España / Spanish climate areas
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It could be a huge gamble for Spain, but some believe it may help it fix its financial woes. The sunny southern European country with a huge unemployment problem (18.5 percent) and a high rate of renewable energy electricity (24.5 percent compared with 7 percent in the U.S.) is planning to use renewable energy to boost the country’s job rates.

According a report in the Washington Post, the Spanish administration wants to “increase domestic demand for alternative energy by having the government help pay the bill” and “by compelling millions of Spaniards to go green, whether they like it or not.” That would be achieved through a combination of new laws and private investment. The hope is to create a million green jobs over the next decade. The Spanish government believes renewable energy could give 800,000 jobs back to the million construction workers who lost their jobs in 2008.

Government interference like this has its critics. Some say such projects cost too much to the taxpayer while others point out that all it does is create bubbles that eventually burst. That’s what Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada told the Post. “What they’re talking about now – creating a new sustainable economic model through alternative energy – is going to be exactly the opposite of sustainable.”

The report gives more details about the possible risks involved, although green advocates are said to support the initiative. “The reality is that government needs to help create a critical mass in alternative energy to make it sustainable in the long run, and that’s what Spain is doing”, said Angel Torres, the country’s secretary general of economic policy.

What do you think of this? Does Spain’s plan have potential?

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