The International Renewable Energy Agency reported last week that 11 million people were employed in the renewable energy industry around the world in 2018, a 6% increase over 2017 and continued proof that the industry continues to increase its role in the global economy and energy mix.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Renewable Energy and Jobs annual review, the global renewable energy sector employed 11 million people in 2018, up from 10.3 million in 2017. However, employment remains concentrated in several countries, namely China, Brazil, the United States, India, and the European Union. Further, Asian countries accounted for 60% of the global share of renewable energy jobs, with countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounting for a lion’s share of growth in renewable energy jobs last year.
Continuing the unsurprising revelations from IRENA’s report is the fact that solar PV remains the largest employer of renewable energy jobs with fully one-third of the total renewable energy jobs reported in 2018. Similarly, Asia again remains the leader of solar PV jobs accounting for over 3 million solar PV jobs, nearly nine-tenths of the global total.
“Beyond climate goals, governments are prioritising renewables as a driver of low-carbon economic growth in recognition of the numerous employment opportunities created by the transition to renewables,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Renewables deliver on all main pillars of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social. As the global energy transformation gains momentum, this employment dimension reinforces the social aspect of sustainable development and provides yet another reason for countries to commit to renewables.”
Despite its global importance, the wind industry is only the fourth largest renewable energy industry, employing 1.16 million (as compared to solar’s 3.6 million). Even though onshore wind remains the dominant technology, offshore wind continues to gain traction and could further surge forward if it builds on the expertise and infrastructure that already exists in the offshore oil and gas sector.