The renewable energy industry created more than half a million new jobs globally in 2017, reflecting a 5.3 percent increase from 2016, reports 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 record 10.3 million worldwide.
The United States, China, Brazil, India, Germany, and Japan are the largest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70 percent of all industry jobs globally. While countries are increasingly investing in the renewable energy market, the bulk of manufacturing still occurs in relatively few countries; Asia is home to 60 percent of all renewable energy jobs.
“Renewable energy has become a pillar of low-carbon economic growth for governments all over the world, a fact reflected by the growing number of jobs created in the sector,” said Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of IRENA. “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.”
In regards to types of work, the photovoltaic (PV) (i.e. solar power) industry remains the largest employer of all renewable energy technologies, accounting for close to 3.4 million jobs worldwide. This represents an increase of nearly nine percent since 2016, following a record 94 gigawatts (GW) of installations in 2017. China accounts for an estimated two-thirds of global PV jobs—equivalent to 2.2 million—representing 13 percent growth over a year. The United States, Japan, India, and Bangladesh are the next largest markets; in total, the five countries represent nearly 90 percent of global PV jobs.
While jobs in the wind industry receded last year, the industry still accounts for 1.15 million positions worldwide. China accounts for 44 percent of global wind employment, followed by European (30 percent) and North American (10 percent) countries.
“The energy transformation is one of improving economic opportunity and a rise in social wellbeing as countries implement supportive policies and attractive regulatory frameworks to fuel industrial growth and sustainable job creation,” said Rabia Ferroukhi, Ph.D., IRENA’s deputy director of knowledge, policy and finance. “By providing policy makers with this level of detail about the composition of renewable energy employment and skills requirements, countries can make informed decisions on several important national objectives…Such considerations will support a fair and equitable transition to a renewables based energy system.”
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