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World – Renewable energy jobs rise to 12.7 million in 2021 despite the impact of the pandemic

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23 September 2022

Global employment in renewable energy reached 12.7 million last year, a jump of 700,000 new jobs in one year, despite the lingering effects of Covid-19 and the growing energy crisis, according to a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2022 identifies domestic market size as a major factor influencing employment creation in renewables, along with labor and other costs.

Meanwhile, solar energy was found to be the fastest-growing sector. In 2021, it provided 4.3 million jobs, more than a third of the current global workforce in renewable energy.

There were 1.3 million jobs in wind power in 2021. Furthermore, there were 2.4 million direct jobs in hydropower in 2021. Two-thirds of these jobs were in manufacturing, 30% related to construction and installation, and about 6% in operation and maintenance . Jobs in biofuels in 2021 totaled 2.4 million, with the vast majority in feedstock operations. Biodiesel output and employment are rising while ethanol is ebbing.

Women accounted for one-third of all renewable energy jobs.

The report showed that an increasing number of countries are creating jobs in renewables. Almost two-thirds of all these jobs are in Asia. China alone accounts for 42% of the global total, followed by the EU and Brazil with 10% each, and the US and India with 7% each.

According to the report, the expansion of renewable energy needs to be 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.

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, said, “Beyond the numbers, there is a growing focus on the quality of jobs and the conditions of work in renewable energies, to ensure decent and productive employment. The increasing share of female employment suggests that dedicated policies and training can significantly enhance the participation of women in renewable energy occupations, inclusion and ultimately, achieve a just transition for all. I encourage governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations to remain firmly committed to a sustainable energy transition, which is indispensable for the future of work.”

Looking ahead, worldwide employment in renewable energy in 2030 could rise to 38.2 million under an ambitious energy transition scenario with front-loaded investments. The number of jobs in the energy sector could rise to 139 million, including more than 74 million in energy efficiency, electric vehicles, power systems/flexibility, and hydrogen.

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