Renewable energy employs 9.8 million globally, with close to a third in bioenergy

The renewable energy sector employs 9.8 million people worldwide, according to a newly published study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin. “In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled.

“Renewables are directly supporting broader socio-economic objectives, with employment creation increasingly recognised 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,” Mr. Amin added.

The biggest contributors in terms of renewable jobs are China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany. In China for instance, 3.64 million people worked in renewables in 2016, a 3.4% increase on the previous year.

In terms of bioenergy, Brazil, China, India and the US are all key job markets. Globally, the biofuels sector employs 1.7 million, biomass 0.7 million and biogas 0.3 million.

Most renewable sector jobs are located in Asia, continuing a long standing trend. Significant increases have been recorded in Africa, the result of a host of new projects and investment into renewables on the continent.

“In some African countries, with the right resources and infrastructure, we are seeing jobs emerge in manufacturing and installation for utility-scale projects. For much of the continent however, distributed renewables, like off-grid solar, are bringing energy access and economic development. These off-grid mini-grid solutions are giving communities the chance to leap-frog traditional electricity infrastructure development and create new jobs in the process,” said Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Head of IRENA’s Policy Unit and Deputy Director of Knowledge, Policy and Finance.

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