TODAY’S STUDY: GLOBAL NEW ENERGY JOB COUNT
Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2014
May 2014 (International Renewable Energy Agency)
-IRENA estimates that renewable energy jobs reached 6.5 million in 2013. In decreasing order, the largest employers were China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Spain and Bangladesh.
-Regional shifts from developed to emerging countries continued in wind and solar technologies, predominantly in the manufacturing and installation segments of the value chain.
-Solar photovoltaic and wind power remain the most dynamic renewable energy technologies.
-In 2013, the solar photovoltaic sector accounted for 2.3 million jobs, largely concentrated in China. The trends show an increase in Chinese installation jobs, while manufacturing jobs remain stable as growing demand is absorbing the oversupply of photovoltaic panels.
-Liquid biofuels, modern biomass and biogas are large employers (1.4 million, 0.8 million and 0.3 million) and jobs are mainly concentrated in feedstock production.
-Wind employment remains relatively stable at 0.8 million jobs. Policy changes in several countries have reduced installation jobs, while those in operations and maintenance have experienced some growth.
-Solar heating employed 0.5 million people, around 70% were in China. Data availability for solar heating, small hydro and geothermal is low, hence there is a potential for underestimation of jobs.
-The policy context is vital – steadiness and predictablity are essential to ensure sustained growth in renewable energy employment.
-Education and training are critical enablers for employment in this relatively new and highly dynamic sector. Skill shortages are already creating bottlenecks for deployment in some countries.
Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2014
As the slow recovery in the global economy fails to invigorate labour markets, job creation has come to the forefront of policy debate and countries’ strategic choices. While the potential of renewable energy to create jobs is widely recognised, further analysis is required to understand its full benefits.
Assessing the status and trends in renewable energy employment and analysing all related dimensions (policies, skills, gender considerations, etc.) are essential for policy making. In this context, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has been conducting various studies to bridge the knowledge gap on these issues (see Box 3).
IRENA estimates that globally, 6.5 million people are working directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector, based on a literature review and annual data collection from various sources. This publication presents the status of renewable energy employment by technology (see Figure 1) and by selected countries (see Figure 2). A summary y is shown in Table 2.2
This global figure reflects a direct, year-on-year comparison with IRENA’s previous estimate of 5.7 million jobs (IRENA, 2013) as well as an ongoing effort to refine the data. Global numbers are based on a wide range of studies but remain incomplete. The underlying methodologies vary considerably, and the different sources are of uneven detail and quality. The numbers are focused primarily on the years 2012 and 2013.
Among other updates, the 6.5 million figure reflects significant changes in Chinese job estimates, which can be attributed to a marked increase in annual installation and manufacturing activity as well as methodological differences in employment estimation.
Recent trends in renewable energy prices and investment have affected job creation across the value chain. For instance, although declining prices of solar photovoltaic and wind equipment are introducing new challenges for suppliers and affecting manufacturing jobs, they are also driving employment growth in installation and operations and maintenance (IRENA, 2013).
From year to year, these dynamics can generate substantial employment swings.
Renewable energy employment is also shaped by regional shifts, industry realignments, growing competition, advances in technologies and manufacturing processes and the impacts of austerity and policy uncertainty. The policy context is critical. While the suitability of different policy tools varies depending on a country’s circumstances, steadiness in the policy framework is key. Uncertainties or frequent changes are inimical to job creation (see Box 2 and IRENA, 2013). In addition, skill shortages can also act as a major barrier to renewable energy deployment and thus to associated employment (see Box 1).
Renewable Energy Employment By Technology: Solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power remain the most dynamic renewable energy Technologies…
Renewable Energy Employment In Selected Countries:
Renewable energy employment continues to spread to more and more countries. Nonetheless, the bulk of employment remains concentrated in a small number of countries: China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Spain…
The Way Forward
In 2013, global employment continued to grow, with noteworthy shifts in the breakdown along the segments of the value chain.
Valuable insights into these shifts are provided by the current estimation method. However, a more comprehensive analysis of renewable energy employment requires a more thorough understanding of the underlying dynamics.
Therefore, in the next edition of this review IRENA will employ a new estimation method that allows us to analyse employment in more countries, with more technologies in each country and along the different segments of the value chain.