Renewable energy jobs worldwide in 2017

 In Energy

The renewable energy sector grew significantly in 2017. This expansion is demonstrated very clearly if we look at the number of people employed by the industry last year and how these figures compare to 2016 and previous years.

The latest IRENA Report shows how the renewable energy sector currently employees 10.3 million people worldwide, an increase of 5.3% over the figures reported in 2016.


These figures have been growing steadily in the last five year and, although some sectors are performing better than others – solar photovoltaic (PV) and bioenergy industries experience a more significant growth compared to wind energy and solar heating, the general outlook for the sector seems very positive.

Now let’s take a look more in details at the employment figures for the leading renewable energy technologies.


Solar PV industry is still leading the way when it comes to renewable energies. Employment reached 3.37 million in 2017, an increase of 8.7% compared to last year figures.

These numbers also reflect the growth the industry has seen in term of gigawatts installed in the previous year – 94 GW installed versus the 73 GW in 2016.

An important aspect to notice about Solar PV is that the five most active countries operating in this industry – China, India, the United States, and Japan and Bangladesh account for 90% of these jobs.



If Asia is leading the way for Solar PV, when it come bioethanol producers, South America accounts for half the jobs worldwide. According to the Irena report, Brazil alone accounts for 795.000 jobs out of 1.9 million worldwide followed than by US, Colombia and Indonesia.


The increase from last year was about 12%, but it’s important to notice how the majority of these jobs came from the agricultural value chain – planting and harvesting the crops necessary to create bioethanol, whereas the construction and maintenance fuel-processing ing facilities required a smaller but usually more skilled workforce.


Similarly as Solar PV, most of the wind energy jobs are concentrated in six main countries: China, Germany, the United States, India, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Together they account for around 95% of jobs in a sector which totaled 1.16 million worldwide in 2017.


Beyond this clear figures, the report explains how the supply chain of this sector is becoming more and more globalized. International competition amongst supplier is increasing and European firms, for example, have a strong sale and manufacturing workforce present in other countries.


Analysing the large hydropower sector from an employment point of view is not an easy task as the information available is scarce and difficult to interpret.

However, the report shows how the industry employs around 1.5 million people directly, most of them in Operation and Management.


China, India, and Brazil are the most substantial job markets for the industry.


The report concludes its analysis with a forecast for the coming years. IRENA’s study suggests in 2030 the number of people employed in the sector could grow to 23.6 million worldwide.

The renewable energy sector will keep expanding for the foreseeable future as a response to issues like climate change and environmental degradation.

As the transition towards renewable energies will continue, the renewable energy workforce employed worldwide will continue to grow.

IRENA’s report also highlights the importance of the policies that government will have to implement in future years to facilitate this transitions.

These policies will have to deal with the deployment and industrial aspect of this process but also with the training and education needed to form a new workforce and regulation that will attract skilled and talented workers to the industry.

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