Originally published on the ECOreport.
At a time when the global economy is struggling with weak trade, investment and wage growth, especially in the energy sector, the International Energy Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) 2016 jobs review points to an exception. The number of people working in renewables worldwide grew from 7.5 million in 2014 to 8.1 million in 2015.
One of the surprises is the extent to which renewables are replacing fossil fuels. In China, for example, there are 3.5 million working in the renewable sector as opposed to only 2.6 million in gas and oil. Similarly, there are now more Americans employed in the solar industry (209,000) than oil and gas extraction (187,200) or coal mining (67,929).
The world’s largest renewable energy employers are the solar PV (2.8 million jobs), liquid biofuels (1.7), and wind power (1.1 million) sectors.
More than a third of the people working in renewables are Chinese, while Brazil and the United States trail far behind, in second and third place respectively.
India has made impressive incursions into the wind and solar sectors.
Japan is currently #5, but changes to its Feed-in Tariff may result in a decline in the number of installations starting in 2017.
An increased share of the job market is shifting to Third World Nations in Asia and Africa.
Meanwhile, employment figures in some of the leading renewable nations are declining.
Although there was a record number of solar PV installations in China (15 GW compared to 9.5 GW in 2014), and the number of new wind jobs also increased, this was offset by losses in the solar heating and cooling and small hydropower sectors.
2014 was the fourth year in a row that there was a decline in the EU’s employment figures.
“Solar PV has taken the greatest hit, but we do see a rebound in the wind industry … particularly in the U.K. and Denmark,” said Rabia Ferroukhi, the report’s lead author.
Germany’s solar PV industry has lost a third of its volume, as manufacturing jobs have gone to Asia. However, the nation’s overall 4% renewable job loss compares very well with the conventional sector. Clean Energy Wire reports that the number of people employed in the conventional sector during 2013 is only 38% of what there was in 1991.
The single reference to Canada in this report states it is a “relevant employer” in the hydro sector.
During the associated press conference, Ms Ferroukhi explained that we only have 36,000 renewables-related jobs, of which 18,000 were in wind and solar.
All images taken from RENEWABLE ENERGY AND JOBS – Annual Review 2016: Figure 1: Renewable Energy Employment By Technology; Table 2: Estimated Direct And Indirect Jobs In Renewable Energy Worldwide, By Industry;Figure 3: Renewable Energy Employment In Selected Countries And Regions
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