The global renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs worldwide in 2017. This was a 5.3 percent increase from 2016, according to the latest figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
According to the fifth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review, the total number of people employed in the sector now stands at 10.3 million globally, surpassing the 10-million mark for the first time.
According to the report, China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, and Japan remain the world’s largest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70 per cent of all industry jobs globally. Although growing numbers of countries are reaping the socio-economic benefits of renewables, the bulk of manufacturing takes place in relatively few countries and domestic markets vary enormously in size. Sixty per cent of all renewable energy jobs are in Asia, the report noted.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry remains the largest employer of all renewable energy technologies, accounting for close to 3.4 million jobs, up almost 9 percent from 2016 following a record 94 GW of installations in 2017, IRENA observed.
China was estimated to account for two-thirds of solar PV jobs – equivalent to 2.2 million – representing an expansion of 13 percent over the previous year. Despite a slight dip in Japan and the United States, the two countries followed China as the largest markets for solar PV employment in the world. India and Bangladesh complete a top five that accounts for around 90 percent of global solar PV jobs.
“The data also underscores an increasingly regionalized picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident. Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonization of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050,” Adnan Z. Amin, the director general of IRENA, said in the report.
Jobs in the wind industry decreased slightly last year to 1.15 million worldwide. While wind jobs are found in a relatively small number of countries, the degree of concentration is lower than what is found in the solar PV sector. China accounts for 44 percent of global wind employment, followed by Europe and North America with 30 and 10 percent, respectively. Half of the top ten countries with the largest installed capacity of wind power in the world are in Europe.
India installed a record 9.6 GW in solar installations in 2017 but due to uncertainty surrounding the safeguard duty imposition and other trade cases, solar installations are expected to be lower in 2018. With majority of the solar jobs coming from installation activity, lower installation levels will mean slowdown in job creation in 2018.
Image credit: By Kenueone [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons