New York — More than 7.7 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
This is an 18 per cent increase from last year’s figure of 6.5 million. The report, Renewable Energy and Jobs — Annual Review 2015, also provides a first-ever global estimate of the number of jobs supported by large hydropower, with a conservative estimate of an additional 1.5 million direct jobs worldwide.
“Renewable energy continues to assert itself as a major global employer, generating strong economic and social benefits worldwide,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
“This increase is being driven, in part, by declining renewable energy technology costs, which creates more jobs in installation, operations and maintenance. We expect this upward trend to continue as the business case for renewable energy continues to strengthen.”
As in previous years, renewable energy employment is shaped by regional shifts, industry realignments, growing competition and advances in technologies and manufacturing processes. Jobs in the renewable energy sector are increasingly being created in Asia, with five of the 10 countries with the most renewable energy jobs now located in the region (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Bangladesh).
As a result, even with continued jobs growth, the European Union and the United States now represent 25 per cent of global renewable energy jobs, compared to 31 per cent in 2012.
The 10 countries with the largest renewable energy employment figures are China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, France, Bangladesh and Colombia.
The solar PV industry is the largest renewable energy employer worldwide with 2.5 million jobs, followed by liquid biofuels with 1.8 million jobs, and wind power, which surpassed one million jobs for the first time this year. The employment increase spreads across the renewable energy spectrum with solar, wind, biofuels, biomass, biogas and small hydropower all seeing increases in employment.
“If we continue to invest in renewable energy and its multiple economic, environmental and social benefits, employment in renewables will continue to climb,” Amin said. “IRENA’s research estimates that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030, would result in more than 16 million jobs worldwide.”