Job Creation

Renewable energy employment has continued to develop since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012. Eleven million people were employed in renewable energy worldwide in 2018, compared with 10.3 million in 2017. As more and more countries manufacture, trade and install renewable energy technologies, the latest Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review finds that renewables jobs grew to their highest level despite slower growth in key renewable energy markets including China.

 

  • The solar PV industry retains the top spot, with a third of the total renewable energy workforce. In 2018, PV employment expanded in India, Southeast Asia and Brazil, while China, the United States, Japan and the European Union lost jobs.
  • Rising output pushed biofuel jobs up 6% to 2.1 million. Brazil, Colombia, and Southeast Asia have labour-intensive supply chains where informal work is prominent, whereas operations in the United States and the European Union are far more mechanised.
  • Employment in wind power supports 1.2 million jobs. Onshore projects predominate, but the offshore segment is gaining traction and could build on expertise and infrastructure in the offshore oil and gas sector.
  • Hydropower has the largest installed capacity of all renewables but is now expanding slowly. The sector employs 2.1 million people directly, three quarters of whom are in operations and maintenance.

 

 

Renewable energy plays an increasingly important role for improving energy access. GOGLA and Vivid Economics (2018) estimated direct off-grid solar employment in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia at 372 000 full-time equivalent jobs. 56% of these jobs are located in rural areas and 27% are filled by women.

 

Employment remains concentrated in a handful of countries, with China, Brazil, the United States, India and members of the European Union in the lead. Asian countries’ share remained at 60% of the global total. 

 

Over the years, IRENA has addressed the gender dimension of renewable energy in multiple publications and programmatic activities to help fill the knowledge gap in this field. This report found that women currently represent 32% of the renewable energy workforce, substantially higher than the 22% average reported for the global oil and gas industry.

 

 

As the global energy transformation gathers pace, leaders and decision makers seek to maximise the social and economic benefits. Alongside decarbonisation and climate goals, countries need to create jobs and spur economic development. 

 


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