More than 7.7 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry, according to a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This is an 18 percent 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 percent of global renewable energy jobs, compared to 31 percent in 2012.
In the United States, total solar employment surged 22 percent from 142,700 to 173,800 and overall wind jobs increased 43 percent since last count to 73,000. Data also finds that employment of women in the solar industry is on the rise, increasing from 26,700 to 37,500.
“Here in the United States, a country fast becoming a leader in renewable energy innovation, we are seeing a rapid rise in deployment of solar PV in particular, along with strong investment in wind in several states and a leading focus on development of advanced biofuels,” Amin said.
“Overall, wind jobs in the U.S. have increased by almost half — 43 percent – since last count to 73,000, whilst total solar employment surged 22 poercent to 173,800 in 2014. We have also found that the employment of women in the U.S. solar industry is on the rise, increasing from 26,700 to 37,500 last year.”
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 1 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.
— Source: IRENA