IRENA Report: Renewable energy employs 8.1 million people worldwide

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Solar employment in the US grew 22% — 12 times faster than job creation in the US economy. China led all employment in the renewable-energy sector with 3.5 million jobs.

According to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy sector has employed 8.1 million people worldwide — a 5% increase from last year.

According to the report the PV sector remains the largest renewable energy employer worldwide with 2.8 million jobs, compared to around 2.5 million in the previous analysis. 

Solar employment in the US grew 22% — 12 times faster than job creation in the US economy. China led all employment in the renewable-energy sector with 3.5 million jobs.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said: “The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector. “This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for renewables strengthens and as countries move to achieve their climate targets agreed in Paris.”

The total number of renewable-energy jobs worldwide increased in 2015, while jobs in in other categories of the energy market fell, according to the report. In the US, renewable energy jobs rose 6%, while employment in oil and gas dropped 18%.

As has been the case in recent years, enabling policy frameworks remained a key factor in employment. National and state auctions in India and Brazil, tax credits in the United States and supportive polices in Asia have all helped spur employment boosts in the renewable-energy sector.

The countries with the most renewable energy jobs in 2015 included China, Brazil, the US, India, Japan and Germany. 

Amin added: “As the ongoing energy transition accelerates, growth in renewable energy employment will remain strong. IRENA’s research estimates that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 – enough to meet global climate and development targets – would result in more than 24 million jobs worldwide.”

Overall, job totals in the European Union dipped for the fourth year in a row. Germany remains the highest European Union renewables employer — employing nearly as many as France, the United Kingdom and Italy combined. 

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