IRENA’s annual jobs review confirms long-term growth trend and calls for strong policy action to maximise employment benefits in response to COVID-19 Renewable energy continues to bring socioeconomic benefits by creating numerous jobs worldwide, according to the latest figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today.
The seventh edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review shows that jobs in the sector reached 11.
5 million globally last year, led by solar PV with some 3.
8 million jobs, or a third of the total.
“Adopting renewables creates jobs and boosts local income in both developed and developing energy markets,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera.
“While today we see a handful of countries in the lead, each country can harness its renewable potential, take steps to leverage local capabilities for industrial development, and train its workers.
” Last year, sixty-three per cent of all renewables jobs were recorded in Asia, confirming the region’s status as a market leader, the new report reveals.
Biofuels jobs followed closely behind solar PV, reaching 2.
Many of these jobs are in the agricultural supply chain, particularly in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, with labour-intensive operations.
Other large employers in the renewables sector are the hydropower and wind industries, with close to 2 million and 1.
2 million jobs, respectively.
Renewables jobs have shown more inclusion and a better gender balance than fossil fuels.
The report highlights that women held 32 per cent of total renewables jobs, as opposed to 21 per cent in fossil fuels sectors.
Although precise estimates remain scarce and absolute numbers are small for now, off-grid renewables are creating growing employment, led by solar technology.
Decentralised renewable energy can also propel productive uses in rural areas.
This job multiplier effect can be seen in farming and food processing, healthcare, communications, and local commerce.
Comprehensive policies, led by education and training measures, labour market interventions, and industrial policies that support the leveraging of local capacities, are essential for sustaining the renewables jobs expansion.
The 2020 edition of the Annual Review highlights promising initiatives to support the education and training of workers.
Such efforts revolve around vocational training, curricula-building, teacher training, the use of information and communications technology, promotion of innovative public-private partnerships, and recruitment of under-represented groups such as women.
Policymakers must also prioritise reskilling for fossil fuel sector workers who have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods.
Many have considerable skills and expertise to contribute to a reoriented, clean energy industry.
The world has seen encouraging growth in renewables jobs.
But it can bring about much larger employment by adopting a comprehensive policy framework that drives the energy transition.
Never has the importance of such a push been clearer than at this momentous juncture.
Even as the world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity receives near-daily reminders of what lies in store if we fail to address the gathering climate disruptions.
The need to chart a different course is undeniable, as are the benefits to be reaped.
IRENA’s recently-released Post-COVID Recovery Agenda found that an ambitious stimulus programme could create up to 5.
5 million more jobs over the next three years than a business-as-usual approach.
Such an initiative would also allow the world to stay on track for creating the 42 million renewables jobs that the agency’s Global Renewables Outlook projects for 2050.
Renewable energy technologies create jobs and up and down the supply chain and can spur broad and sustainable social and economic development.
Renewables accounted for an estimated 11.
5 million jobs worldwide in 2019, up from 11 million the previous year, according to this seventh edition of the Renewable Energy and Jobs series.
While few large markets still account for the bulk those jobs, employment in renewables has started spreading more widely, especially through the proliferation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Solar PV accounted for 33% of the world’s renewable energy workforce in 2019.
Asia accounted for 63% of total jobs in renewables.
Off-grid decentralised renewables account for increasing numbers of direct jobs, especially in Africa, as well as propelling employment in agro-processing, health care, communications, local commerce and other productive uses, the report finds.
Latin American renewables jobs are concentrated in biofuels and hydropower.
Employment opportunities are a key consideration in planning for low-carbon economic growth.
Many governments have prioritised renewable energy development, firstly to reduce emissions and meet international climate goals, but also in pursuit of broader socio-economic benefits.
Renewables could support an improved gender balance in the future energy sector.
Women currently hold an estimated 32% of the world’s renewable energy jobs.
To build the skills base for the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, countries will need more vocational training, stronger curricula, more teacher training and expanded use of information and communications technology for remote learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for renewables to meet social, economic and environmental needs.