Growing Job Opportunities In Renewable Energy
At a time when both developed and developing nations are facing challenges with creating job opportunities that provide a decent wage, the renewable energy sector continues to far outpace other industries in that regard worldwide.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), there were 8.1 million jobs in 2015 in the renewable energy industry across the globe. This was a 5 per cent increase from the 7.7 million jobs in 2014, which was, in turn, an 18 per cent increase from 6.5 million jobs in 2014.
While the growth in employment in the renewables sector has slowed down compared to previous years, the fact that it has continued to grow is truly remarkable because it actually contrasts recent trends across the broader energy sector.
Major employers in renewable energy
Growth in employment and markets in renewable energy is attributed to a range of factors, including the favourable policy frameworks in different countries, increased labour productivity, declining technology costs, and regional shifts in deployment. Here is a look at the different renewable energy sources:
- Solar photovoltaics
Cost reductions in solar photovoltaics (PV) drove deployment at the distributed and utility levels, promoting job creation. In fact, solar PV installations increased by 20 per cent globally between 2014 and 2015, with the largest growth taking place in China, the US and Japan. There were 2.8 million jobs in solar PV in 2015, which is an 11 percent increase from 2014, making it the biggest renewable energy employer.
- Liquid biofuels
In 2015, employment in liquid biofuels dropped by 6 per cent from the previous year due to two key factors: the first factor is the growth of production mechanization in countries like the US and Brazil, and the second is the reduced production in nations like Indonesia. That said, job opportunities in this segment increased in the EU, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Employment in wind energy increased by 5 percent in 2015 to reach 1.1 million, with the biggest growth taking place in the US, Germany, and China, followed by India and Brazil. There were about 15,000 new wind jobs in the US; 6,000 new jobs in Brazil; and about 10,000 in the EU in 2015.
- Solar heating and cooling
The major employers are China, Brazil, India, Turkey, and the US, which contribute the biggest percentage of the estimated 940,000 jobs in the sector. However, employment opportunities have been dropping, especially in China, due to the slowing housing market. In 2015, there were only 743,000 jobs worldwide.
Most of the jobs in hydropower are informal, but IRENA found that employment declined by 13 percent in 2015 to reach 200,000, mainly due to a reduction in the installed capacity.
Generally, the growth in job opportunities in renewable energy is expected to continue as people switch to eco-friendly energy sources. There are also employment opportunities in other renewable energy technologies, such as geothermal, ocean energy, biomass, and biogas.