Renewable energy sector employment hits 11 million worldwide

The number of people employed in the renewable energy sector increased from 10.3 million to a record 11 million last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has revealed.


In a report published yesterday, IRENA said that solar and wind are still the most dynamic industries, accounting for one-third of the global renewable energy workforce.

And despite a slowdown in China, growing employment in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam ensured Asia maintained its 60% share of jobs, with the EU, US, Brazil and India accounting for around a third.

“Renewables deliver on all main pillars of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social," said Francesco La Camera, director general of IRENA.

“Beyond climate goals, governments are prioritising renewables as a driver of low-carbon economic growth in recognition of the numerous employment opportunities created by the transition to renewables."

Employment by the various renewable energy industries is shown below:


The report shows that the solar PV industry employed most people last year, and accounts for a third of the total renewable energy workforce as jobs expand in India, Southeast Asia and Brazil.

Rising output pushed biofuel jobs up 6% to 2.1 million, while the hydropower sector also employs the same amount, with three-quarters in operations and maintenance, according to the report.

Employment in wind power supports 1.2 million jobs, and although onshore projects dominate, the offshore segment is gaining traction and could build on expertise and infrastructure in the offshore oil and gas sector.

“As the global energy transformation gains momentum, this employment dimension reinforces the social aspect of sustainable development and provides yet another reason for countries to commit to renewables,” La Camera added.


Image credit: ©iStock

Graphic credit: IRENA


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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