With a focus on China, India, the United States, and Australia, the article uses spatial analysis to identify the local solar and wind capacities required for each coal mining area to enable all coal miners to transition to solar/wind jobs. It also assesses the resource availability in these areas and the scale of the deployment of renewables needed to transition coal miners in areas suitable for solar/wind power. The article suggests that the potential to create local jobs is crucial to a just and effective transition. Unlike other professional workers who migrate to find new jobs when they are laid off, most coal miners become “inactive” when they lose their jobs because of their strong connections to their communities, age, or skills.
The article finds that, with the exception of the U.S., several gigawatts (GWs) of solar or wind capacity would be required for each coal mining area to transition all coal miners to solar/wind jobs. In all four countries, only a small percent of coal mining areas have suitable wind resources. Furthermore, these countries would have to scale up their current solar capacities significantly to be able to transition coal miners working in areas suitable for solar development. The report highlights the need for a localized understanding of labor impacts and shows how spatial methodology can be used to conduct similar assessments.