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Eleven million people were employed in renewable energy worldwide in 2018 – new IRENA report

Eleven million people were employed in renewable energy worldwide in 2018, the latest report on global jobs from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals. This compares with 10.3 million in 2017. As more and more countries manufacture, trade and install renewable energy technologies, the latest Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review finds that renewables jobs grew to their highest level despite slower growth in key renewable energy markets including China.

Accounting for one-third of the total renewable energy workflow, solar PV retains the top spot in 2018, followed by liquid biofuels (graphic courtesy IRENA).

According to the annual report “Renewable Energy and Jobs“, now in its the sixth edition, the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies creates employment opportunities up and down the supply chain. Worldwide, the sector employed 11 million people at the end of 2018 which is up around 700 000 on 2017 figures.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind remain the most dynamic of all renewable energy industries. Accounting for one-third of the total renewable energy workflow, solar PV retains the top spot in 2018, ahead of hydropower, liquid biofuels and wind power. Geographically, Asia hosts over three million PV jobs or nearly nine-tenths of the global total.

Most of the wind industry’s activity still occurs on land and is responsible for the bulk of the sector’s 1.2 million jobs. China alone accounts for 44 percent of global wind employment, followed by Germany and the United States (US). Offshore wind could be an especially attractive option for leveraging domestic capacity and exploiting synergies with the oil and gas industry.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The solar PV industry retains the top spot, with a third of the total renewable energy workforce. In 2018, PV employment expanded in India, Southeast Asia, and Brazil, while China, the United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) lost jobs.
  • Rising output pushed biofuel jobs up 6% to 2.1 million. Brazil, Colombia, and Southeast Asia have labour-intensive supply chains where informal work is prominent, whereas operations in the United States and the European Union are far more mechanised.
  • Employment in wind power supports 1.2 million jobs. Onshore projects predominate, but the offshore segment is gaining traction and could build on expertise and infrastructure in the offshore oil and gas sector.
  • Hydropower employs 2.1 million people directly, three quarters of whom are in operations and maintenance. The sector has the largest installed capacity of all renewables but is now expanding slowly.

China leads the renewable jobs market followed by the European Union (EU) and Brazil (graphic courtesy IRENA).

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