There is definitely a green jobs boom going on today — in China. When you combine heavy government subsidies and low labor costs, China is an ideal location for green energy jobs. While we are working on growing our own green economy here in the United States, China is in a strong position to become the green economy leader.
I was just reading a post on Economix, one of the New York Times blogs. In the post, Why Green Energy Can’t Power a Job Engine, author Edward L. Glaeser looks at the closing of the Evergreen Solar facility in Massachusetts and what this closing may mean for the nation’s green economy.
Evergreen Solar opened in 1994 and was able to secure financing from a variety of sources including the government and companies and venture capitalists from around the world. However, the state of the nation’s economy has led Evergreen Solar to close the doors of its facility in Devens, Mass., and move production to China. This will leave 800 area residents without a job.
“Evergreen Solar’s move to China was supported by a $33 million loan from the Chinese government, and it has suggested that the Chinese production was cheaper because 'solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support.'
But surely China’s skilled, low-wage labor force is a far more important source of its low costs. Japan’s success in the 1980s was also attributed to its activist industrial policy, but subsequent research found that government subsidies backed losers more often than winners.” Source: The New York Times
The problem with this is that the United States no longer has a significant manufacturing industry base. Sure, there are people who work in manufacturing but by and large, the heyday of the manufacturing industry here in the U.S. is gone. With a substantial part of the green energy industry relying on just that — manufacturing — we’ll be hard-pressed to keep pace with China unless something changes.