A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates there are more than 9.8 million people (nearly 10 million) employed in the renewable energy industry in 2016. And some sectors within the renewables industry are seeing big job growth.
For example, the United States saw employment increase 24% in the solar industry in 2016 compared to the previous year. Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 says that’s an astounding 17 times faster than employment growth in the overall US economy. Solar had the largest share of renewable energy jobs in the world in 2016 at 3.1 million jobs, an increase of 12% from 2015.
Other parts of the renewable energy industry saw impressive job growth figures as well. New wind installations contributed to a 7% increase in global wind employment, raising it up to 1.2 million jobs. Brazil, China, the United States and India also proved to be key bioenergy job markets, with biofuels accounting for 1.7 million jobs, biomass 700,000, and biogas 300,000.
IRENA’s general director Adnan Amin noted in a statement that falling costs and enabling policies are two factors that have led to increased investment and employment in the renewables sector over the last number of years.
“Renewables are directly supporting broader socio-economic objectives, with employment creation increasingly recognized as a central component of the global energy transition. As the scales continue to tip in favour of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world,” he added.
The Annual review shows that global renewable-energy employment, excluding large hydropower, reached 8.3 million in 2016. When accounting for direct employment in large hydropower, the total number of renewable-energy jobs globally climbs to 9.8 million. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable-energy jobs. In China for example, 3.64 million people worked in renewables in 2016, a rise of 3.4%.
The report finds that globally, 62% of the jobs are located in Asia. Installation and manufacturing jobs continue to shift to the region, particularly Malaysia and Thailand, which has become global centre for solar PV fabrication.