Global solar PV employment up to nearly 4 million in 2020 – IRENA

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More people were employed in solar than any other renewables sector in 2020, IRENA said. Image: CS Energy.

Despite delays and supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, global solar PV employment increased by 6% last year to reach nearly 4 million, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Rising from the 3.75 million jobs in 2019, solar continued to account for the largest share of employment positions of all renewables technologies last year.

Released in collaboration with the International Labour Organization, the report shows that China, the leading manufacturer of PV equipment and largest solar installation market, accounted for about 58% of PV employment worldwide, or some 2.3 million jobs.

Although total solar employment grew globally, the second and third markets in IRENA’s ranking, the US and Japan, both saw a reduction in PV jobs last year, falling to 231,000 and 220,000, respectively. The US Department of Energy, however, said in July that solar employers in the country are expecting to bounce back this year.

Also in the top 10 countries for solar employment – which together accounted for 85% of the global total – last year were India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil, Malaysia, Germany and Australia, according to IRENA.

Reflecting the region’s dominance in solar manufacturing and strong deployment figures, Asia accounted for 79% of the world’s PV jobs in 2020. It was followed by the Americas with 9%, Europe (6%) and the rest of the world (6%).

“Renewable energy’s ability to create jobs and meet climate goals is beyond doubt. With COP26 in front of us, governments must raise their ambition to reach net zero,” said Francesco la Camera, IRENA director-general.

A study published earlier this year suggested that a global shift to 100% renewables by 2050 could lead to a nearly 10-fold increase in the number of solar PV jobs.

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