- IRENA and ILO report on renewable energy jobs counts 12.7 million as being employed in the sector globally in 2021
- Solar PV hosted the most jobs with 4.3 million, followed by biofuels with 2.42 million, hydro power with 2.37 million and wind energy with 1.37 million
- Top 10 nations accounted for 87% of all jobs in the PV sector with China alone employing 63%
- Government policies, financial support and proper training can ensure many millions of high quality and well-paying jobs in solar PV sector
Global renewable energy sector employed 12.7 million in 2021, with solar leading the charge with more than a 3rd of the current global renewable workforce at 4.3 million, that could increase to 38.2 million in 2030 under an ambitious energy scenario with front-loaded investments.
Solar PV sector increased jobs annually from 4 million in 2020. It was followed by biofuels with 2.42 million, 2.37 million in hydro power and 1.37 million in wind energy, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and International Labor Organization (ILO) report Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2022.
Maximum jobs existed in Asian nations as it hosted 79% of all PV jobs thanks to the dominance it commands in manufacturing and installations, led by of course China.
Top 10 countries across all continents accounted for almost 3.7 million jobs or 87% of the global total jobs in PV sector. China alone accounted for 63% or 2.68 million of all PV jobs last year as the country has a near-complete monopoly for global solar PV manufacturing, with 96% of global production in 2021. One big reason for this dominance is of course substantial government support the Chinese government provides the PV industry.
As countries and continents around the globe try to develop their own local supply chain for PV instead of relying on a single source, read China in the aftermath of COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has also delivered a similar lesson for governments.
“My advice to governments around the world is to pursue industrial policies that encourage the expansion of decent renewables jobs at home,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “Spurring a domestic value chain will not only create business opportunities and new jobs for people and local communities. It also bolsters supply chain reliability and contributes to more energy security overall.”
The report writers also stress that renewable energy sector can create ‘many millions of new jobs’ only if it is supported with holistic policy packages, including training for workers to ensure jobs are decent, high quality, well paid and diverse in pursuit of a just transition.
The 38.2 million renewable energy jobs in 2030 as estimated by the report writers under an ambitious scenario will more than double than 17.4 million under the planned energy scenario (PES) based on current policies and plans.
In terms of gender balance, the report says solar PV fares better than the renewable energy sector as a whole and far better than the global oil and gas industry.
Complete report is available for free download on IRENA’s website.
Recently, SolarPower Europe (SPE) released its EU Solar Jobs Report saying the bloc employed 466,000 people in solar sector in 2021, and would need to increase the same to around 1.5 million full time employments (FTE) by 2030 to meet its energy security goals (see EU Solar Jobs Report: Addressing Solar Skills Challenge).