The offshore wind energy segment will be the new hiring haven for energy jobs, according to Rystad Energy analysis.
Demand for offshore wind staff will triple by the end of the decade, surging to 868,000 full-time jobs from an estimated 297,000 in 2020. The hiring spree will be visible in the middle of the decade, as job demand could reach about 589,000 in 2025.
Rystad Energy estimates that Europe, Asia outside of China, and the Americas will drive the global jobs creation in the offshore wind sector. Europe, which dominates the offshore wind installed capacity globally, could expect to see demand for jobs more than triple by 2030, from 110,000 jobs in 2020 to around 350,000.
Asia, excluding China, will see major jobs boost, most noticeable in the second half of this decade, as South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan are expected to contribute significant offshore wind capacity. China, meanwhile, could see demand for jobs stagnate towards 2030, despite the current activity ramp-up.
In the Americas, the US will be a major driver for offshore wind deployment because of the ambitious plans to decarbonize the power sector by 50% by 2030 put forward by the current Democratic administration.
“We estimate that the US will have almost 15 GW of offshore wind installed capacity by 2030, with 30% coming from recent solicitations held by New York State. As we move towards 2030, demand for jobs is expected to be lifted further by other countries in the region, especially Brazil, which has several large projects expected to be commissioned around the turn of the decade,” Rystad said.
Mercom reported recently that the US clean energy industry ended last year with the lowest number of workers since 2015 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report by BW Research Partnership.
In all, 429,258 clean energy workers lost their jobs since February 2020, despite adding 16,887 jobs in December 2020. The workforce decreased by 12% compared to pre-COVID employment levels.
Mercom had reported in 2019 that the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies has helped generate 11 million employment opportunities in the global renewable energy industry in 2018, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report.
IRENA had said last year that energy transition-related technologies could add 5.5 million jobs globally by 2023. Out of these jobs, renewable energy will account for 2.46 million; energy efficiency for 2.91 million; and grids and energy system flexibility for 0.12 million.
Rystad Energy has estimated that offshore wind installed capacity could rise to 110 GW by 2025 and 250 GW by 2030. “This prolific growth will require a lot of skilled employees. In our analysis, we have calculated the staffing needs in the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) workers – one year of full-time employment for one person regardless of actual hours – and included only direct and indirect jobs driven by offshore wind capacity deployment globally.”
Direct jobs relate to the development, manufacturing, construction, installation, and operation, and maintenance of offshore wind farms. Indirect jobs relate to materials and services consumed, such as workers in steel plants supporting offshore wind turbines, electronics workers at companies supplying nacelle components, and staff of renewable energy regulatory institutions.
The jobs are grouped as construction and development (C&D) – which are typically capital expenditures – and operation and maintenance (O&M) roles – which relate to operational expenditures. The C&D jobs are expected to account for most of the employment over the next decade, although its share of the total employment decreases as we approach 2030.
O&M jobs, meanwhile, driven by the installed capacity of wind farms, have contributed about 7% of the total job count in 2020 and will make up about 12% in 2025. With a rapid increase in offshore wind installed capacity, O&M will gain a larger share of the total jobs. C&D roles will still dominate, however, because a typical offshore wind farm spends 60-70% of its CAPEX in the lead-up to its commissioning, which takes between one and three years.
C&D roles related to manufacturing – turbines, cables, substations, and foundations – contribute about 66% of the total potential, while installation jobs account for 10% and project development for 4%. O&M adds a 20% share to the total jobs potential.
By 2030, turbine manufacturing will continue to create most of the jobs, accounting for 54% of the total. Therefore, turbine manufacturers such as Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, Goldwind, and GE Renewable Energy are expected to employ additional labor and establish more factories for bigger turbines in the coming years.
In November 2020, The European Commission unveiled a strategy to help achieve the European Union’s climate neutrality target by 2050. The plan suggested increasing Europe’s offshore wind capacity up to 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050, from its existing capacity of 12 GW.
Mercom had earlier reported that the United Kingdom Government announced a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution to increase the country’s offshore wind capacity up to 40 GW by 2030.