The report, available to the Ghana News Agency, “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017,” was released on Wednesday 24 May and details that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016 – a 1.1 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA, 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.”
Specifically, jobs in the renewable energy sector – excluding large hydropower – increased by 2.8 per cent last year, to reach 8.3 million in 2016.
Mr Amin said: “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 report said 62 per cent of all renewable energy jobs are based in Asia, as installation and manufacturing continues to shift to the region.
The most renewable energy jobs were found in China, India, Japan, Brazil, the U.S. and Germany.
Among the clean energy sectors, solar photovoltaic (PV) was the largest employer in 2016, employing 3.1 million people – a 12 per cent increase compared to 2015.
Liquid biofuels (1.7 million jobs), solid biomass (0.7 million) and biogas (0.3 million) were also major employers, IRENA reported.
Earlier this year, IRENA announced that 2016 was strongest year ever for new capacity additions, with a record 161 gigawatts (GW) of newly added renewable energy generation capacity.
A report issued by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said more than 54 GW of wind power was installed in 2016, with total capacity expected to reach over 800 GW by 2021.
The latest figures released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) show that the U.S. wind energy sector added jobs more than nine times faster than the overall U.S. economy last year – with a total of 102,500 people now working in the industry.
The US solar industry also posted its best year on record in 2016, surpassing the previous record by installing 14.6 GW of new solar, a 95 per cent surge from the 7.4 GW installed in 2015.
In 2016, global installed solar capacity exceeded 78 GW, up from 51 GW the previous year – total installed solar capacity has now reached over 306 GW worldwide.