Renewable energy industries could generate 11 million new jobs worldwide by 2030, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The agency’s report, ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs’, predicts jobs in the sector could hit 16.7 million by 2030, up from 5.7 million today, as deployment gathers pace.

According to IRENA, solar PV and biofuels currently account for the most jobs in renewable energy, with around 1,360,000 and 1,379,000 respectively.

IRENA highlighted PV as one of the sector’s strongest performers, having seen a 13-fold increase in employment within five years.

But the report predicts that as deployment increases, driven by the opportunities presented by emerging trends such decentralised generation, employment across all renewable energy technology types will mushroom between now and 2030, increasing by 11 million by that time.

The agency predicts that the rapid growth enjoyed by PV over recent years will not continue over this time, and that by 2030 employment within the industry will grow to around 2 million, split between manufacturing and development.

Bioenergy will emerge as the biggest employer, accounting for over 9 million jobs by 2030.

And the report concludes that employment opportunities within the renewable energy will only be maximised with the right support from governments.

Among these it says policy stability from national governments will be essential to providing the necessary investor confidence to allow renewable energy deployment to continue growing.

These should be coupled with “forward-looking” training and education policies to ensure the workforce has the necessary skills to capitalise on emerging opportunities, the report adds.

“The new report helps to bridge a knowledge gap in terms of specific analytical work and empirical evidence on a global scale, which to date has been limited,” said Rabia Ferroukhi, senior programme officer at IRENA and lead author of the report. “Our report creates a greater understanding of how renewable energy generates jobs and wealth. It is a breakthrough for informed policy choices in this important area.”

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