DOE Green Energy Loans: $11.45 million per job and a rounding error’s worth of averted carbon emissions

by David Middleton

The cost of each taxpayer-financed green energy job created since 2009:

$26.32 billion divided by 2,298 jobs = $11.45 million per job…

DOE-loan-losses4 (2)

Green energy jobs and DOE loans are tallied under programs 1703 and 1705 on this list.

Permanent jobs created: 2,298
Taxpayer financed loan guarantees: $26.33 billion

19 of the projects cost more than $10 million per permanent job…


Even if you use the Obama maldaministration’s accounting methods and include temporary employment, the totally idiotic “jobs created/saved” category and include the 33,000 Ford Motor Company jobs “saved”, you get ~60,000 jobs at a cost of $34.5 billion –> $580,000 per job.


Bear in mind that Mr. Obama promised “to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects.” He’s currently 4,997,702 short of the 5 million mark.

The Full Cost of “Green Energy” Jobs

I have handy cost estimates for three of the solar plants near the top of the list of $10 million-plus jobs. If I factor in the increased cost of electricity, the cost per permanent job literally skyrockets, as promised by candidate Obama in 2008.

I generously assumed that the three solar PV plants could achieve a 30% capacity factor (the average is 25%), that they could achieve a levelized generation cost (LCOE) of $144.30 per MWh (DOE’s most recent average for plants coming online in 2018) and that they could remain in service for 20 years.


The total cost to the economy per permanent “green energy” job created by these three solar PV plants is $82.3 million. If I add in the 2,450 temporary construction jobs that were created, the cost per job drops to $2.8 million per job.

The Carbon-Free Benefits of Green Energy

The carbon-free “benefit” is a 0.007% reduction in annual global carbon emissions, relative to coal (0.00035% relative to natural gas). Neither the climate nor the oceans will notice this “benefit.”

Each MW of coal generation displaced by solar PV reduces global carbon emissions by about 0.000008% and doubles (or more) the cost of electricity. Natural gas would achieve half the carbon emission reduction at about 1/3 the cost of solar and a slightly lower cost than coal.

Of course, nuclear would solve the whole problem… But it’s frowned upon by greenies.

The Irony is priceless…

According to the EPA, coal yields 2,249 lbs/MWh of carbon dioxide per MWh of electricity generated. That works out to 1.02 metric tons of CO2 per MWh of generation.

In 2011, 1.8 million MWh (1.8 TWh) of electricity were generated in these United States by solar power plants. Assuming this generation displaced coal, 1.87 million metric tons of CO2 emissions were averted.

That’s a lot! Right?

Well, no it is not a lot. 1.87 million tons of CO2 emissions is barely a rounding error compared to total global carbon emissions.

1.87 million tons of CO2 is 0.51 million tons of carbon. According to CDIAC, the total global carbon emissions in 2011 were 9,471.37 million tons of carbon.

9,471.37 – 0.51 = 9,470.86

The minuend and difference both round to 9,471 million tons of carbon.

9,471 million tons of carbon is 9.5 Gt of carbon. Natural carbon sources emit 190 to 225 Gt per year…


Anthropogenic emissions account for only 4-5% of the total carbon budget. 1.8 TWh of US solar generation in 2011 reduced the 4-5% component by 0.005%.

This would be funny if it didn’t cost so much money.

In 2011 there was 4,389 MW of solar PV installed capacity in these United States. At $6 million per MW, the total cost for those solar plants was ~$26.3 billion. Had that money been spent on natural gas-fired plants (~$900,000 per MW), it could have displaced 29,260 MW of coal-fired capacity. This would have generated 223 TWh of electricity (solar only yielded 1.8 TWh. Natural gas yields about half the carbon emissions as coal. If 223 TWh of coal-fired generation had been displaced by natural gas, it would have reduced global carbon emissions by ~56 metric tons (solar only reduced it by 0.51 metric tons).

Here’s a “what if” comparison:


Black = What if solar did not displace coal-fired plants.

Green = Actual solar generation and actual emissions.

Red = What if the money spent on solar had been spent on natural gas-fired plants.

Data Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2012.

Of course, since CO2 is not a real pollutant, only the cost matters… But it is funny – Natural gas would be a far more effective weapon than solar for tilting at AGW windmills…


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