- End of 2020, 375,000 people worked in the EU in solar – 150,000 direct and 207,000 indirect jobs with 80% of these jobs being associated with solar deployment, according to SPE’s EU Solar Jobs Report 2021
- An EU 45% renewables share target by 2030 would tripple solar jobs to 1.1 million in the EU compared to the current 40% target, which would result in doubling the solar workforce
- A raised ambition will lead to higher installation target for solar which would increase employment opportunities in the field all across the value chain
- Policy intervention is required to unlock these prospective jobs, including in the rooftop solar segment, which is the most job-intensive solar segment
As the European Union (EU) chases a 40% renewables target by 2030, as proposed by the European Commission, the PV sector association SolarPower Europe (SPE) estimates solar jobs in the region to double to a cumulative 742,000 by 2030. However, if there is an increase in the 2030 renewables target to 45%, what the lobbyists ask for, it may triple solar jobs to 1.1 million by 2030.
In its EU Solar Jobs Report 2021 Towards Higher Solar Ambitions in Europe, SPE does the math like this: A 45% renewables share by 2030 would translate to 870 GW solar power capacity, up from 140 GW at the end of 2020, meaning the region would have to install more than 70 GW annually, leading to over 1.1 million jobs in 2030. At the same time, a raised EU renewables target will also enable 55% GHG emissions reduction target by 2030 and set the EU on a cost-efficient track to reach 2050 climate neutrality, complying with a 1.5 °C Paris Agreement Scenario.
SPE believes 1.1 million jobs would be the optimum scenario and a significant increase from 357,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the EU solar sector in 2020, comprising 150,000 direct and 207,000 indirect jobs with 80% of these jobs being associated with solar deployment. While 6% work in manufacturing, 10% in O&M and 4% in recycling and decommissioning.
By 2025, the report’s medium term scenario predicts the creation of 584,000 EU solar jobs meaning an increase of 64%.
“Although Europe has an exceptionally strong solar R&D landscape and leading manufacturers, not every product needed for a solar power system can currently be made in Europe anymore,” said SPE’s Head of Market Intelligence, Michael Schmela. “The European Union needs to support investment in manufacturing jobs for solar technology, which already adds more power generation capacities than any other, and will shoulder the major responsibility of keeping European lights on in the long term.”
Along with raising EU’s renewables ambition by 2030 to 45%, the report writers suggest a few policy recommendations that would ‘establish the right conditions to enable further solar growth’ and ‘most affordable means to achieve the the European Green Deal’. Some of these recommendations are stated as follows:
- Promote a solar industrial strategy for the EU to provide energy security in the long run by creating domestic manufacturing capacity for high-quality jobs.
- Train EU workers as skilled workforce and devise adequate training strategies along with ensuring sufficient investments in up- and re-skilling programs.
- Develop comprehensive policy frameworks for the rooftop solar segment.
- Promote diversity in the solar industry to improve gender balance and have a more diverse EU workforce in terms of gender, social, ethnic background, sexual orientation to better utilize talents and skills of EU workers.
“Residential, commercial, and industrial rooftop solar energy systems create more jobs than utility-scale systems,” added SPE’s Senior Policy and Market Analyst Raffaele Rossi. “At the same time, European rooftops could meet up to 25% of the continent’s energy needs. Therefore, we must rapidly develop strategies to deploy rooftop PV and unlock this massive employment and energy potential.”
Published with the support of the Vlerick Business School, the 3rd edition of the SPE report is available for free download on its website. The report follows on a 2018 edition and is now planned to be published annually.
The report is published close after an IRENA and ILO’s renewable energy jobs report that stated solar PV as the largest global employer among renewables with 3.98 million jobs in 2020, out of 12 million employed by renewable energy sector (see IRENA: 1/3 Of Renewable Jobs From Solar).