The widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies has helped generate 11 million employment opportunities in the global renewable energy industry in 2018, says a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
According to the sixth edition of the Renewable Energy and Jobs—Annual Review 2019, these 11 million job creations are up slightly compared to the 10.3 million job creations in 2017.
Last year’s report said that the global renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs worldwide in 2017. This was a 5.3% increase from 2016, according to IRENA. The total number of people employed in the sector surpassed the 10-million mark for the first time in 2017.
Of the total jobs created in 2018, nearly 3.6 million opportunities were created in the solar industry alone. However, only 32% of these jobs were held by women employees.
The report suggests that China leads in renewable energy employment worldwide, accounting for 39% of the world’s total, down from the 43% share recorded in 2017. The country’s total number of employment opportunities throughout the year stood at 4.1 million.
The top five countries accounted for 93% of all jobs. Asia is home to 711,000 jobs, 88% of the world total. Of the top 10, three countries are from Asia and three from Europe.
In India, 719,000 jobs were created in total with 347,000 jobs in the hydropower sector, 115,000 employment opportunities in solar PV (grid-connected), and the wind sector employed nearly 58,000 people by the end of the year according to the report.
With the new solar installations in India reaching a record high of 9.6 GW in 2017, employment in solar PV increased by 36%, touching a figure of 164,400 jobs, of which 92,400 were in on-grid applications.
India had the world’s fifth-largest additions to wind capacity in 2017 at 4.1 GW and the fourth-largest cumulative capacity. IRENA estimates that employment in the sector stood at 60,500. Its employment-factor calculation also shows that India had the sixth largest installed capacity in 2017, and the country may have employed some 20,700 people in 2018.
An International Labor Organization report from last year estimated that India’s solar and wind energy sectors might create job avenues for over 300,000 workers by 2022.
Solar installations in India have reached over 30 GW, according to preliminary figures from Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker. The share of solar capacity grew from 6.6% as of March 2018 to 8.4% as of March 2019. Among renewables, solar accounted for approximately 38% of the installed capacity, up by 2% compared to the previous quarter. This implies an upward growth trajectory for job creation in the sector in the months to come.
“Beyond pursuing climate goals, many governments have prioritized renewables as a driver of low-carbon economic growth. Diversification of the supply chain has broadened the sector’s geographic footprint beyond a few leading markets, as more countries link sustainable technology choices to broader socio-economic benefits. Increasingly, countries envisage a domestic renewable energy industry taking the place of unsustainable fossil-based industries,” said, Francesco La Camera, the director-general of IRENA.
According to the IRENA report, solar PV remained the number one employer among renewable energy technologies in 2018, accounting for a third of the sector’s workflow. Asia made up nearly nine-tenths of the total PV jobs across the world.
China, India, the U.S., and Japan were the most important renewable markets, followed by Australia, Germany, the Republic of Korea, and Turkey. A recent figure reveals that 50 leading solar PV panel manufacturers maintain factories in 23 countries. Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Chinese Taipei too are forging ahead in the renewable energy sector followed by Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, who are playing significant roles as producers and exporters, states the report.
Meanwhile, several countries in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania, are gaining prominence in solar PV installations, creating more jobs. In 2018, Japan estimated nearly 250,000 jobs, a reduction of 22,000 from 2017, IRENA reports.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the direct employment in projects under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program more than doubled from 17,800 job-years in 2014 to 36,500 by mid-2018. The majority of these are held by people from local communities.
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.