Renewable energy jobs hit 11.5 million worldwide

The number of people employed in the world's renewable energy sector grew to a record 11.5 million last year, which is half a million more than in 2018.


That is according figures released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which show that 63% of these jobs were in Asia, confirming the region's role as a market leader.

Solar PV accounted for 3.8 million jobs – around a third of the global total – with biofuels jobs closely behind on 2.5 million. Other large employers in the renewables sector are the hydropower and wind industries, with close to 2 million and 1.2 million jobs respectively.

The figures also show that these sectors have a better gender balance than oil and gas, with woman holding 32% of total renewables jobs, compared to 21% in the fossil fuel industry.

"Adopting renewables creates jobs and boosts local income in both developed and developing energy markets,” said IRENA’s director-general Francesco La Camera. 

“While today we see a handful of countries in the lead, each country can harness its renewable potential, take steps to leverage local capabilities for industrial development, and train its workers.”

IRENA said that comprehensive policies, led by education and training measures, labour market interventions, and industrial policies that support the leveraging of local capacities, are essential for sustaining the jobs expansion.

Its latest report highlights promising initiatives to support the education and training of workers, such as vocational training, curricula-building, teacher training, the use of information and communications technology, promotion of innovative public-private partnerships, and recruitment of under-represented groups such as women.

The agency's recently-released Post-COVID Recovery Agenda found that an ambitious stimulus programme could create up to 5.5 million more jobs over the next three years than a business-as-usual approach, allowing the world to stay on track for creating 42 million by 2050.

“The world has seen encouraging growth in renewables jobs, but it can bring about much larger employment by adopting a comprehensive policy framework that drives the energy transition,” IRENA said. “Never has the importance of such a push been clearer than at this momentous juncture.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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