7.7 Million People Worldwide Are Employed by Renewable Energy: New IRENA Report

According to a report being released today by IRENA, more than 7.7 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry. This is an 18 per cent increase from last year’s figure of 6.5 million. IRENA will present the findings of its new report at the second annual UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum, during the plenary session on 19 May.

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. 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.

“We are seeing the widest spread of employment through renewable energy this year. Five of the 10 countries with the most renewable energy jobs are now located in Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Bangladesh.” – IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin

As a result, even with continued jobs growth, the European Union and the United States now represent 25 per cent of global renewable energy jobs, compared to 31 per cent in 2012.

 “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. Overall, wind jobs in the US have increased by almost half – 43% – since last count to 73,000, whilst total solar employment surged 22% to 173,800 in 2014. We have also found that the employment of women in the US solar industry is on the rise, increasing from 26,700 to 37,500 last year.” – IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin

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 one 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.

For renewable energy employment to continue to grow, supportive policies should be used.

 “In order to maximise job creation from renewable energy deployment, governments need to implement a mix of cross-sectoral policies that encourage deployment, stimulate investment in local industries, strengthen firm-level capabilities and promote education and research.” – Rabia Ferroukhi, IRENA Deputy Director, Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre

Infographic on number of renewable energy jobs per technology (thousands)

Download the full Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2015

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