President Obama's Green Energy Jobs

ByLeonard Wald

The Problem
President Obama has proposed opening up millions of jobs to replace some of the millions lost in the recession by pushing development in the field of green energy. This is an excellent proposal, if possible, since it would accomplish four desirable goals at the same time, namely:
Help make the transition from a fossil fuel based energy economy to a green energy economy in order to reduce carbon dioxide and other bad emissions.Start the U.S. on the road to a sustainable energy economy.Reduce or perhaps eliminate the chronic trade deficit the U.S. runs in the world economy by reducing its oil and gas imports.Provide the jobs the U.S. so desperately needs.

Several critics have stated that the President's proposal is only politics, since the green energy field cannot provide millions of jobs and dependence on green energy sources may not even be achievable at the present time. Let us investigate this proposal without the political polemic to see if it is a realistic goal.

The Requirements
In order to accomplish the President's job goals, we need to look for energy production options that have the following characteristics.
The energy production option should provide large numbers of jobs and yet not drive up the cost of the energy produced. Thus we are looking for a means of taking the money we normally would pay to the owners of oil and gas fields and pay it to US workers. Such an option, would allow us to pay no more for the energy and have the money paid go to American workers.
The programs the government supports must have job leverage-i.e., the money the government provides will produce jobs, but it will also encourage investors to provide new money that will produce even more jobs. Without leverage, millions of jobs requires billions of dollars which the US currently can't afford
The jobs produced should be free from job replacement by computers and robots. In order for this to happen, working with humans must be the best to operate.
It should be possible for the chosen energy option to enter into the job production phase as soon as possible. We must think of results showing:
Political near term-1 1/2 years from now to be useful for the next election.
Near term-5 years from now.
Long term-10 years from now.
In order to accomplish the President's green energy goals, we need to look for energy production options that have the following critical features, namely, the energy must be:
Plentiful enough to start covering the nation's base load (electricity) needs in the near term and make fuels for portable power plants (autos, trucks and aircraft) that can replace fossil fuels in the long term as they peak out.Safe and free from carbon dioxide and other pollutant production.Price competitive with fossil fuels ($0.08-0.12/KWH), so it can start replacing fossil fuels now, and later, as fossil fuels peak out, replace them.Able to use the existing energy distribution systems.

Potential Solutions
Several green energy options have been proposed, namely:
Nuclear fission reactors of a modified and improved design.Land based wind turbines.Shore based wave generators.Land based solar cells and/or solar thermal generators.Green fuels to replace fossil fuels such as alcohol and oil from food crops, waste wood, kelp and algae.Land based deep thermal wells.Ocean based wind turbines, wave generators and solar cells.

Let us explore each green energy option in sequence and match it to our list of requirements.

Nuclear Fission.A nuclear fission reactor is competitive in cost because the energy is as concentrated as is that from fossil fuels, so a relatively small amount of equipment is needed to exploit it. Such reactors are currently being used for base load (Load Factor