Global renewable energy employment hits 10.3 million

The renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs globally in 2017, a 5.3 per cent increase from 2016, according to the latest figures by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

According to the fifth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review, the total number of people employed in the currently stands at 10.3 million globally, surpassing the 10 million figure for the first time.

China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan remain the world’s largest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70 per cent of all industry jobs globally.

Sixty per cent of all renewable energy jobs are in Asia.

“Renewable energy has become a pillar of low-carbon economic growth for governments all over the world, a fact reflected by the growing number of jobs created in the sector,” IRENA director-general Adnan Z Amin said.

“The data also underscores an increasingly regionalised picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident.

“Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonisation of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050.”

According to the review, the solar PV industry remained the largest employer of all renewable energy technologies, accounting for close to 3.4 million jobs, up almost 9 per cent from 2016 following a record 94GW of installations in 2017.

China was estimated to account for two-thirds of PV jobs – equivalent to 2.2 million – representing an expansion of 13 per cent over the previous year.

Despite a slight dip in Japan and the United States, the two countries followed China as the largest markets for solar PV employment in the world.

Jobs in the wind industry contracted slightly last year to 1.15 million worldwide, the report revealed.

China accounted for 44 per cent of global wind employment, followed by Europe (30 per cent) and North America (10 per cent).

Half of the top ten countries with the largest installed capacity of wind power in the world were European.

“The energy transformation is one of improving economic opportunity and a rise in social wellbeing as countries implement supportive policies and attractive regulatory frameworks to fuel industrial growth and sustainable job creation,” IRENA policy unit head Dr Rabia Ferroukhi said.

“By providing policy makers with this level of detail about the composition of renewable energy employment and skills requirements, countries can make informed decisions on several important national objectives.”