Spain Looks to Green Jobs to Remedy Soaring Unemployment

Spain has become the latest country to identify green jobs as the answer to its economic woes, today detailing how it plans to create around a million jobs over the next decade in low carbon industries.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a roundtable discussion on renewable energies and sustainability at the G20 meeting in Seoul today that the country's ecologically sustainable industries would play a major part in alleviating its unemployment crisis.

Spain doubled its target for renewable energy in March and Zapatero said today that this measure, combined with growth in green transport, could create more than a million jobs in a nation that currently has four million unemployed.

"We estimate that if we group them all together then sustainable industries, sustainable transport, sustainable education and eco-industries have the potential to create around a million jobs in the economy of the sustainable environment in the next decade," he said.

While Spain's economy is currently floundering, it remains one of Europe's powerhouses in terms of solar and wind energy, and has ambitious targets for expanding high speed rail and electric car take-up.

The country's solar feed-in tariff scheme proved so successful that in terms of total installed solar capacity, Spain is currently level pegging with the U.S., while the 50MW La Florida facility, is expected to deliver one of the world's largest solar plants.

However, the impoverished government is struggling to afford the scheme and recently announced plans to cut the tariff incentives by 45 percent earlier this year.

Only Germany produces more onshore wind in Europe than Spain, while the country has also targeted its expanding biomass sector as a key growth area.

"The green economy represents a great potential to generate employment in the future and also to help with technological advances and to make economies more competitive," Zapatero added later in an interview with Spanish television network RTVE.

Meanwhile, Italy is nearing completion on the world's first solar powered motorway.

The 30km A18 Catania-Siracusa motorway in Sicily opens on January 1, by which time all of its electricity needs, including lights, road signs and street furniture will be met using power generated by 80,000 solar panels installed on three artificial tunnels that have been deployed on a 100 meter-wide, 2.8km long stretch of road.

The project is thought to have cost about €60m (US $82 million) and should generate up to 12 million kWh a year, saving around 10,000 tons of CO2.

This article originally appeared at BusinessGreen.com and is reprinted with permission.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user futureatlas.com.