The think tank known as Next 10 is the Voice of Eternal Optimism, when it comes to the economic potential of decarbonization. Its latest report poses the question: “Can California afford clean energy now?” You can probably guess the answer.
The study [PDF], which was funded by Next 10 and authored by UC Berkeley professor David Roland-Holst and a team of researchers from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, concludes that California will face greater economic uncertainty if the state continues on a “business-as-usual” path in terms of energy. A greater investment in clean energy, the report finds, will spur sustained economic growth.
The study analyzes five new energy scenarios including three different degrees of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS): 20 percent, 33 percent, and 50 percent as well as a 50 percent RPS plus energy efficiency increases of 1.0 and 1.5 percent per year.
According to the Executive Summary [PDF], the study’s most ambitious scenario, 50 percent renewable fuels and a 1.5 percent efficiency increase, could generate 420,000 additional jobs with more than $100 billion in cumulative payrolls over 40 years (2008-2050). Without the energy efficiency increases, however, the numbers are much lower. The report finds that a 50 percent RPS alone would create about 60,000 new jobs, whereas 33 percent would create just half that number.
California’s current RPS is intended to increase from 12 to 20 percent by 2010. Last November, Governor Schwarzenegger set a target for California to have 33 percent of its electricity provided by renewable resources by 2020.