Renewable energy employment worldwide increased 5.8% to 12.7 million last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Thursday.
The report, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO), demonstrated the ability of renewables to create jobs while also meeting climate goals despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report found that the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays and supply chain disruptions, impacting jobs, which varied by country, end-use and among segments of the value chain.
Liquid biofuel employment decreased as demand for transport fuels fell. The report showed that off-grid solar lighting sales also suffered, but companies were able to limit job losses.
The solar and wind energy sectors continued leading the global employment growth in renewables, accounting for a total of 4.2 million and 1.3 million jobs, respectively.
China led as the country with the most employment in this sector totaling around 5.3 million, followed by Brazil with 1.27 million. The EU employed 1.24 million, and the US and India followed with 923,000 and 863,000, respectively. In the EU, Germany featured a sizeable 352,000 jobs.
IRENA predicted that the renewable energy sector could employ 38 million by 2030.
According to the report, employment trends are shaped by a multitude of factors, including costs, investments, and new and cumulative capacities, and by a broad array of policy measures to enable renewable energy deployment, the generation of viable supply chains and the creation of a skilled workforce.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the global economy during 2021, altering both the volume and structure of energy demand,’ the report said and added that ‘Only a few countries have become significant equipment producers. Trade restrictions may be required to protect a fledgling local industry, but policymakers need to strike a careful balance between such efforts and minimizing costs for renewable energy projects.’
By Gulsen Cagatay