- According to IRENA & ILO, renewable energy jobs grew to a total 13.7 million in 2022
- Solar PV is the largest renewable energy employer with 4.9 million jobs, having grown from 4.3 million in 2021
- Most jobs remain concentrated in countries with largest installations, led by China
- Solar PV is also the technology with the largest share of women in renewable energy jobs
Global renewable energy jobs grew by 1 million in 2022 to a cumulative 13.7 million, with solar PV technology leading the pack. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the overall numbers have gone up 7.3 million since 2012.
The 10th edition of the IRENA report Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2023, which is the 3rd in collaboration with the ILO, states that at the end of 2022, the fastest growing sector of solar PV employed more than 1/3rd of the global renewable energy workforce. It is followed by liquid biofuels and hydropower each accounting for almost 2.5 million jobs each, while wind energy represents 1.4 million jobs.
Jobs in the solar PV domain increased from about 4.3 million in 2021, but highly concentrated in the top 10 countries that employ almost 4.1 million or 85% of the global total. Stronghold of Asian countries, led by China, in manufacturing and installations makes sure the Asian nations account for 73% of the world’s PV jobs.
The fast-growing solar market of India accounted for 281,000 jobs in 2022, distributed between 201,400 in on-grid and 80,600 off-grid solar segments.
India beat other established markets like the Americas that represented 11.5% of all PV jobs, including 264,000 in the US. Brazil represented 241,000 PV jobs.
Europe accounts for 11% or 540,000, comprising 10.6% or 517,000 jobs in the European Union (EU), according to the analysis. However, the recent SolarPower Europe report on solar PV jobs in the EU pegs the number at 648,000 full-time equivalent positions (see EU’s Solar Workforce Growing Significantly).
According to the IRENA-ILO report, solar PV is also the leading employer of women with 40% full time positions in the entire renewable energy spectrum, exceeding women’s average 32% share across the broader RE sector. Nonetheless, it falls short of the share of women employed in the overall economy, according to the report.
Most women employees in the solar sector work in the administration with 58% of all such jobs, but their overall representation in the senior management roles is only 17%.
The accelerated growth of renewable energy aligned with global need to achieve carbon neutrality is going to generate millions of jobs for renewables in the future. The report cautions that along with rising numbers, it is the qualitative aspects of renewable energy jobs that need attention, including wages, occupational safety and health, job security and rights at work.
Authors recommend that the international community needs to expand education and skill-building programs, retaining workers from fossil fuel industries, and also creating greater opportunities for women, youth and minorities to join the renewable energy workforce.
The complete report is available for free download on IRENA’s website.