ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — In 2013, approximately 6.5 million people were employed in the renewable energy industry worldwide, according to a new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014” highlights the role that renewables are playing in the global economy.
The annual review shows steady growth in the number of renewable energy jobs worldwide, which expanded from 5.7 million in 2012, according to IRENA.
“With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche; it has become a significant employer worldwide,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA director-general. “The insights into shifts along segments of the value chain revealed in the report are crucial to developing policy that strengthens job growth in this important sector of the economy.”
Renewable energy employment was shaped by regional shifts, industry realignments, growing competition, and advances in technologies and manufacturing processes in 2013. In descending order, the top five largest employers by country are China, Brazil, the United States, India, and Germany, while the largest employers by sector are solar photovoltaic (PV), biofuels, wind, modern biomass, and biogas.
The 6.5 million jobs figure reflects growth in the Chinese numbers. IRENA estimates a five-fold increase of solar PV installations in China from 2011 to 2013.
“Surging demand for solar PV in China and Japan has increased employment in the installation sector and eased some PV module over-supply concerns,” said Rabia Ferroukhi, head of the Knowledge, Policy and Finance division at IRENA and lead author of the report. “Consequently some Chinese manufacturers are now adding capacity.”
The biofuels value chain provides the second largest number of renewable energy jobs after solar PV. The United States remains the largest biofuels producer, while Brazil remains the largest employer.
In the wind industry, China and Canada provided gains while the outlook for the United States remains mixed because of political uncertainty. The offshore wind industry is still concentrated in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom and Germany.
Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014 is the second annual jobs report published by IRENA. It is available for download at www.irena.org/REjobs.
Publication date: 6/9/2014