New study shows advanced coal technology will create jobs

A STUDY CONDUCTED by BBC Research and Consulting concludes that developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and installing it in electric-power generation facilities will create millions of high-skilled, high-wage jobs for American workers. Throughout his presidential campaign, Pres. Obama repeatedly cited CCS technology as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to meet the nation’s growing need for electrical power.

Cumulative Benefits During Construction

Benefits 100GW 65GW 20GW Boucher
(million job years)
6.9 4.5 1.4 0.2
$1.1 $0.7 $0.2 $0.03
Labor Income
$368 $240 $75 $12

Annual Benefits During Operations

Benefits 100GW 65GW 20GW Boucher
251 153 48 7.5
$58 $36 $11 $2
Labor Income
$17 $10 $3.2 $0.5

This table projects job creation and associated financial benefits from implementing CCS technology at three different levels: 100, 65, and 20 gigawatts. The fourth column shows benefits from implementing funding supports proposed by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA 9th).

The study, titled “Employment and Other Economic Benefits from Advanced Coal Electric Generation with Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies (Preliminary Results),” estimates the employment and economic benefits resulting from deployment of advanced coal-based electric power plants equipped with CCS technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Depending on how many CCS-equipped plants are deployed, some 5 to 7 million man-years of employment could be created during construction, and a quarter of a million permanent jobs added during operations. (See tables for a break-out of estimated benefits.)

At a time when the country is losing high-paying jobs not only because of the current economic recession, but also because of longstanding trade policies that put U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage to those based in other nations, the possibility we can create millions of good jobs here at home is welcome news for many labor leaders.

Boilermakers Intl. Pres. Newton B. Jones said, “Carbon capture and storage technology is essential to enabling the responsible use of our nation's strategic coal reserves — a resource we cannot ignore if we are to make energy independence a reality. This study demonstrates that CCS also has the potential to create thousands of good-paying jobs for Boilermakers and other union building trades. We urge policymakers to keep the results of this study in mind as they move forward in regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and to take appropriate steps to encourage the commercialization of CCS technology.”

Bob Baugh, Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO, representing some 3 million union members, including the IBEW, Boilermakers and Mine Workers, observed, “Our nation needs good jobs and new technology that will cut our carbon emissions. It is time to quit talking about advanced coal technology and begin building it.”

“This study demonstrates that CCS…has the potential to create thousands of good-paying jobs for Boilermakers and other union building trades.”

— Intl. Pres. Newton B. Jones

Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), which funded the study along with the IBEW and the UMWA, said, “The results of this study show the importance of deploying CCS technologies, not only because of their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also because of their substantial economic benefits. We must ensure that these technologies are developed and commercialized as rapidly as possible to achieve these benefits.”

For the study, researchers used a U.S government economic model to calculate the resulting benefits in terms of jobs, power output, value-added to the economy, and labor income associated with both the construction and operation of advanced coal-based facilities equipped with CCS. Researchers developed models for what will happen if 20, 65, or 100 gigawatts (GW) of advanced coal-based electricity generation equipped with CCS are added to the nation’s generation mix.

One gigawatt provides enough electricity to power 300,000 - 400,000 homes. There are slightly more than 300 gigawatts of coal-based power plants in operation today.

In addition, the study estimates the benefits of HR 6258, introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA 9th) in 2008, that provides independent funding support for the early commercial demonstration of CCS technologies.


A video podcast analysis of the study conducted by Doug Jeavons, managing partner at BBC Research and Consulting, can be viewed below.