- SPE report counts 466,000 people employed in the solar sector in 2021 across EU with Poland leading the way
- If the bloc ends up installing 40 GW solar under high scenario in 2022, it will lead to 30% annual growth in solar jobs to 606,000
- In the event of EU installing 1 TW of solar by 2030, it would translate into almost 1.5 million solar FTEs, 45% higher than in the REPowerEU scenario
- SPE recommends the bloc to undertake efforts to upskill, train and create jobs in the sector through solar manufacturing and making rooftop solar mandatory
In 2021, the European Union (EU) had solar sector employing 466,000 people with an annual increase of over 30%, but the bloc needs to employ more than 1 million workers in 2030 for it to meet its energy security targets, according to SolarPower Europe’s (SPE) EU Solar Jobs Report 2022.
This 30% annual increase was despite the effects of the pandemic that Europe was still recovering from in 2021 which proves that solar is a reliable source of millions of future-proof, local and green jobs, argued SPE CEO Walburga Hemetsberger.
According to the report, in 2021 most solar jobs existed in solar deployment that accounted for 367,000 full time employments (FTE) or 79% of the total. The high value strategic sector of solar PV manufacturing employed around 44,000, and another 40,000 were working in operation and maintenance of solar projects, each representing 9% share. The smallest share was working in the recycling segment with 3%.
This is a very similar picture as in the previous year, which means growth can be seen consistently across the solar value chain.
When looking at manufacturing, most people were working in Inverter production with 31,000 FTEs and a 70% share. New jobs were also created in the other segments of EU solar manufacturing, with the nascent production capacities in the ingot/wafer segment and solar cell segment only offering under 1,000 jobs combined at that time.
Regarding employment, new solar power generation capacities are exceptionally valuable as solar is the most job-intensive among low carbon and renewable energy technologies, highlights the reports, mentioning in particular rooftop solar, which creates 5- 7 times more construction jobs than any new centralised power plants. The top solar employers in 2021 were again Poland, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands – the EU’s leading solar PV markets, with rooftop solar mostly dominating their national installation landscape.
In 2022, solar jobs are anticipated to grow to 14% annually to 530,000 FTEs if the EU installs 34 GW solar, as predicted in the medium scenario, but if installations grow to 40 GW under the report’s high scenario, it would mean 30% YoY growth in solar jobs to 606,000.
Even as SPE expects EU to install between 34 GW to 40 GW of new capacity addition with up to 42% annual growth for the bloc in 2022 going by the demand in times of skyrocketing power and gas prices, the writers point at permitting challenges and supply chain issues acting as bottlenecks along with a severe lack of installers.
“Even where administrative barriers are resolved and solar panels are readily available, Europeans report delays of up to a year to install solar rooftop systems, and even longer if combined with battery storage or heat pumps,” emphasized SPE project lead of the report, Michael Schmela.
As EU aims to meet 750 GW DC solar target by 2030 under its REPowerEU programme, SPE analysts say the bloc to need more than 1 million solar workers in 2030 to meet the demand under its medium scenario. But in an accelerated high scenario, if the EU installed 1 TW of solar by 2030 it would translate into almost 1.5 million FTEs, 45% higher than in the REPowerEU scenario. According to SPE, 1 In fact, in the SPE high scenario, 1 million solar jobs will already be required by 2026, 4 years earlier than the REPowerEU target.
“Solar skills will remain hugely employable, and a key opportunity for national governments and regional authorities across Europe in the years to come. Now we must rise to the challenge, and ensure we have the skills and workers to deliver Europe’s energy security and climate goals,” added Hemetsberger.
The report writers recommend a set of policy measures that can help create and sustain the momentum for solar jobs in the EU. These recommendations range from member states devising and implementing enabling framework to upskill and train the workforce, mandating rooftop solar systems to create local employment opportunities and reshoring EU manufacturing capacity in line with the Solar PV Industry Alliance. The report also recommends the European Commission to advance with its new Solar Skills Partnerships on priority.
The detailed report can be viewed and downloaded from SPE’s website for free.
SolarPower Europe’s EU Solar Jobs Report is built and modelled in-house and is published annually to analyse the development of direct and indirect employment in a sector producing. In the report’s previous edition, SPE was demanding the EU to raise its renewable energy ambition to unlock 1.1 million EU solar jobs by 2030 (see EU Solar Jobs Report 2021).