The renewable energy industry continues to grow, and new figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that it now employs nearly 10 million people worldwide.
Published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at its 13th Council meeting, the new report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017, reveals the latest employment statistics for the global renewable energy industry. In total, the global renewable energy sector employed 9.8 million people in 2016, an increase of 1.1% over the previous year. The growth rate over the last two years has definitely been “more moderate” than it was when IRENA published their first assessments starting in 2012, but these most recent figures represent “consistent increase” thanks in part to jobs in the solar PV and wind industries, which together have more than doubled since 2012.
Global Renewable Energy Employment, 2012-2016
“Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
“In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled.
“Renewables are directly supporting broader socio-economic objectives, with employment creation increasingly recognised as a central component of the global energy transition. As the scales continue to tip in favour of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”
Broken down by industry, the solar PV sector was the largest employer in 2016, employing 3.1 million jobs — a 12% increase on 2015, thanks to growth in China, the United States, and India. Specifically, jobs in the solar PV industry in the United States increased 17-times faster than the overall economy, growing 24.5% from the previous year to reach 260,000 — testament to the importance and growth of the renewable energy industry, and a strong counterpoint to the political-drivel being parsed out by Republicans and the Trump administration. The wind sector saw its employment base increase by 7% to 1.2 million jobs, thanks in part to continued and significant growth in China, which employed 509,000 people in its wind energy sector during 2016. Wind employment in the United States increased by 28% to 102,500 jobs in 2016.
Renewable Energy Employment by Technology
Looking at the global distribution of jobs, the report shows that renewable energy employment continues to shift towards Asian countries, which together accounted for 62% of all the renewable energy jobs in 2016, compared to only 50% in 2013. China’s share of global renewable energy jobs increased from 41% in 2013 to 44% in 2016, while the same period saw the European Union’s share of the global figure decline from 19% to 14%.
China lead with 3.64 million renewable energy jobs in 2016, while the United States employed 777,000 people, and the European Union boasted 1.16 million jobs (in 2015, the most recent year for which complete data is available).
Renewable Energy Employment in Selected Countries
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