Global renewables jobs rise to 9.8m in 2016, IRENA report says

Employment in the renewable energy sector has soared to 9.8 million people globally and is expected to more than double by 2030, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds as Germany and China urge the US to stay in the Paris Climate Accord.

“Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” said IRENA director-general Adnan Amin. “In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled.

IRENA released its “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017” report at its 13 th council meeting that had opened Tuesday in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The review shows that global renewables employment, excluding large hydropower, reached 8.3 million in 2016. When also accounting for direct employment in large hydropower, the total number of renewable-energy jobs globally climbs to 9.8 million.

China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable-energy jobs. In China for example, 3.64 million people worked in renewables in 2016, a rise of 3.4%.

“Renewables are directly supporting broader socio-economic objectives, with employment creation increasingly recognised as a central component of the global energy transition,” Amin added.

“As the scales continue to tip in favour of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

PV was the largest employer in 2016 within renewables, the report shows, with 3.1 million jobs, up 12% from 2015, mainly in China, the US and India. In the US, jobs in the solar industry rose 17 times faster than the overall economy, growing 24.5% from the previous year to over 260,000.

New wind installations contributed to a 7% increase in global wind employment, raising it up to 1.2 million jobs, IRENA said.

Merkel vows to convince climate “doubters”

Just a day before IRENA presented its new RE job numbers in Abu Dhabi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Europe vowed to work to convince climate change “doubters,” urged the international community to maintain “the spirit of Paris,” and cited Germany as a positive example of how prosperity and sustainability can go hand in hand.

“About one third of the electricity we consume in Germany comes from renewable energy, and despite the rapid growth we have maintained a stable supply,” Merkel is quoted as saying by the AFP news wire during the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Germany in which 30 nations took part.

At the talks, German environment minister Barbara Hendricks and Chinese special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua jointly urged the US to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to leave.