Eleven Million People Employed in Renewable Energy in 2018

Credit: IRENA
Credit: IRENA

By The Maritime Executive 06-15-2019 08:16:24

11 million people were employed in renewable energy worldwide in 2018 according to the latest analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). 

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.

Until now, renewable energy industries have remained relatively concentrated in a handful of major markets, such as China, the U.S. and the E.U. Increasingly, however, East and Southeast Asian countries have emerged alongside China as key exporters of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were responsible for a greater share of growth in renewables jobs last year, which allowed Asia to maintain a 60 percent share of renewable energy jobs worldwide.

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 liquid biofuels, hydropower and wind power. Geographically, Asia hosts over three million PV jobs, 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 U.S. Offshore wind could be an especially attractive option for leveraging domestic capacity and exploiting synergies with the oil and gas industry, states the report.

Germany has the largest renewable energy workforce in Europe, with nearly 291,000 jobs. German firms are leaders in onshore and offshore wind development, serving domestic and export markets, and employed close to 141,000 people in 2017.

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 U.S., Japan and the European Union lost jobs.

Rising output pushed biofuel jobs up six percent to 2.1 million. Brazil, Colombia and Southeast Asia have labor-intensive supply chains where informal work is prominent, whereas operations in the U.S. and the E.U. are far more mechanized.

Hydropower has the largest installed capacity of all renewables but is now expanding slowly. The sector employs 2.1 million people directly, three quarters of whom are in operations and maintenance.