International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently released its 2018 Annual Review report highlighting the overall industry growth throughout 2017. According to the report, the renewable industry jobs sector increased by 5.3 percent last year, raising the total number of employees to 10.3 million — a new record for the industry.
This means that more than half a million people around the world joined the renewable workforce in 2017.
While the implementation of renewable energy technologies is gaining momentum worldwide, the report notes that more than 70 percent of the renewable workforce is concentrated in just six countries: China, the United States, India, Brazil, Germany and Japan.
Solar Energy Jobs
The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry also had a record-breaking year in 2017, as its installed capacity increased from 73 gigawatts in 2016 to 94 gigawatts last year. Additionally, the solar job market grew by nearly nine percent since 2016, employing some 3.4 million people worldwide as of 2017.
In the United States, the solar job market shrank by 3.8 percent to around 250,000 jobs. However, the report notes: “The contrast between 2016 and 2017 is skewed by the fact that installations in 2016 were driven higher by expectations that a 30% federal investment tax credit might expire. Policy uncertainties in states such as California, Massachusetts and Nevada also had an impact.”
The report also points out that women represent about 27 percent of the nation’s solar workforce, which makes the industry more gender diverse than the fossil fuel industry. Overall, according to the report, women hold about 25 percent of the total renewable energy jobs in the country, which is about five percent more than the average for the energy industry in general.
Wind Energy Jobs
Global employment in the wind energy sector declined by 0.6 percent to 1.15 million jobs, which could be attributed to the slowing pace of new capacity additions. However, wind employment in the United States grew by three percent from 2016, setting a new high of 105,500 jobs as of 2017.
While China remained in the leading position for both new and total wind installations in 2017, five other countries — the United States, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and Brazil — accounted for another 50 percent of global additions.
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IRENA notes that the total investments in renewables increased from the 2016 total, and that the declining costs of these technologies will continue to propel their implementation in the years to come.