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Spain Rejects Calzada "Spanish Jobs" Study

Pete Altman

Posted May 20, 2009 in Solving Global Warming

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I and others have blogged about the "spanish jobs study" that trashes green jobs, and which the Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Navarre region in Spain has criticized.

Now a Spanish Government official has outlined the Spanish government's rejection of the conclusions found in Gabriel Calzada's "spanish jobs study" in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. As Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Spain's Secretary of State for Climate and Minister of the Environment for Rural and Marine Affairs, says:

"We are surprised by the echoes that a paper signed by Gabriel Calzada on the effects of employment due to the promotion of renewable energy is having in the House of Representatives and the US Media...Although there are several studies of different sources that have analyzed the positive impact of renewable energy policies in terms of employment, and that would serve as answer, the Spanish Government would like to express its views."

Of the Calzada paper, Rodriguez says "data used in [the] analysis are totally out of keeping with the current reality of the sector," and that the analysis is "simplistic" and uses a "non-rigorous methodology."

Spains' Union Institute for Employment, Health and the Environment is also weighing in, with an extensive debunking of the study (translated from the Spanish original) which finds Calzada's work heavy on editorial opinion and burdened with incorrect and misrepresented facts.

Specific points from the Spanish Government and ISTAS letters are summarized here:

Calzada's analysis is based on seriously flawed logic. As the Spanish Government letter says, "The conclusions are based on two static and simplistic ratios, from which it is difficult to draw valid conclusions as they compare non-comparable elements."

  • The first ratio compares the economic support given to renewable energies in Spain per job with the average capital per job in Spain. A more valid comparison would have compared support to renewables with support to other energy sources - something other studies have done and shown very different conclusions from Calzada's.
  • The second ratio compares annual support for renewable energy per job with the average productivity per job in Spain. As the letter from the Spanish Government says, "This comparison has no value."

Calzada blames renewables for job losses by assuming renewables are Spain's only electricity source. This conclusion is insupportable, however, as:

  • Electricity prices are influenced by several factors. In Spain, as ISTAS points out, prices are affected 
    • The impact and evolution of crude oil prices
    • The Spanish importation of coal, which accounted for more than 60% of the total coal used in 2008.
    • The costs of nuclear waste treatment, calculated to be around 2,700 million euros.
  • Renewable energy is one of Spain's cheaper electricity sources and has actually been lowering prices in Spain.
    • According to ISTAS, the production of wind energy in Spain brought market prices down by 7.08 euros/MWh in 2005, 12.44 euros/MWh in 2006 and 12.44 euros/MWh between January 1st and May 31st, 2007. 
    • In relative terms, this contributed to a drop in the average market price of between 11.7%, 8.6% and 25.1%, respectively.
  • Spain's electricity prices are below the EU average.
    • According to ISTAS, in Spain the prices per 100 kWh of domestic energy amounted to 12.25 euros in 2007, which is less than the average of 15.28 euros found in the other 27 countries that make up the European Union (UE-27) and the average of 16.05 euros found in the Euro Area; also the price for industrial energy use in Spain amounts to 9.87 euros, which is less than the 10.70 euros of the UE-27 and the 11.23 euros found in the Euro Area. 

Calzada's renewable energy employment figures are wrong. Calzada claims 52,200 direct and indirect jobs (but as with other 'facts' provides no citation for this figure.) By comparison, Spain's Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade says the renewable energy sector in Spain employs 73,900 direct workers. Spain's Labor Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health estimates 89,000 direct jobs and 99,690 indirect jobs.

Calzada's wind energy employment figures are wrong. Calzada states there are 15,000 people employed in the wind energy sector in Spain. But the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade puts the figure at more than twice that, 37,730 people.

Calzada doesn't source his facts. As ISTAS details,

  • No bibliographical reference is specified for much of the data. Under the "bibliography" at the end of the paper, there is only one word: "Pending."
  • Calzada does not provide explanations of his calculations. 
  • The data has been obtained from secondary sources, without considering whether they are of a comparable nature or not. 

The paper appears to be politically motivated. As ISTAS states: "We are not dealing with a study here but rather an essay providing opinions and written with editorial overtones based on secondary information that is poorly referenced and/or explained and which provides only partial statements of the facts. It is a document that is full of errors, a result of the haste incurred in getting it published in order to take advantage of the effect, and it fails at times to honor truth.  These errors go anywhere from simple typos or omissions, to the "deliberate" misuse and confusion of terminology."

The Spanish Government letter concludes with an unequivocal affirmation of the Government's recognition of the value of renewable energy and its commitment to it, noting that Spanish renewable energy policy is widely supported, and that it "has established the pillars of the transformation of our energy model to face the future challenges; that has generated important benefits in environmental terms; that has created net jobs; that has created and improved a powerful industrial fabric, helping the rise of leading companies, not only at a national level but also at an international one, with great export and innovation capacity."

Rodriguez concludes, "In the renewable energy field, Spain is an example to be followed."

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