Renewable Energy Employs 9.8m People Worldwide — Report

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  • Renewable Energy Employs 9.8m People Worldwide

Recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has revealed that the renewable energy sector employed about 9.8 million in 2016, adding that global energy system is creating more jobs in renewables than in fossil-fuel technologies.

The Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2017, released at IRENA’s 13th Council meeting, provided the latest employment figures of the renewable energy sector and insight into the factors affecting the renewable labour market.

Speaking on the report, Director-General, IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin, said, “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.

“In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled. Renewables are directly supporting broader socio-economic objectives, with employment creation increasingly recognised as a central component of the global energy transition.

“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.”

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

The report shows that China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable-energy jobs, and in China for example, 3.64 million people worked in renewables in 2016, a rise of 3.4 per cent.

Also, in Africa, utility-scale renewable energy developments have made great strides, with South Africa and North Africa accounting for three-quarters of the continent’s 62,000 renewable jobs. “In some African countries, with the right resources and infrastructure, we are seeing jobs emerge in manufacturing and installation for utility-scale projects. For much of the continent however, distributed renewables, like off-grid solar, are bringing energy access and economic development. These off-grid mini-grid solutions are giving communities the chance to leap-frog traditional electricity infrastructure development and create new jobs in the process,” Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Head of IRENA’s Policy Unit and Deputy Director of Knowledge, Policy and Finance, said. IRENA’s report shows that solar photovoltaic (PV) was the largest employer in 2016, with 3.1 million jobs up 12 per cent from 2015 mainly in China, the United States and India.

In the United States, jobs in the solar industry increased 17 times faster than the overall economy, growing 24.5 per cent from the previous year to over 260,000.

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Samed Olukoya
Samed Olukoya is the CEO/Founder of, a digital business media, with over 10 years' experience as a foreign exchange research analyst and trader. A graduate of University of East London, U.K. and a vivid financial markets analyst.

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