Future Energy Employment Will be Driven by Renewables

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11.5 million renewable energy jobs in 2019

Solar photovoltaic (PV) retains the top spot among renewable energy industries, accounting for a third of the workforce globally.

Biofuels jobs grew to 2.5 million, as production expanded in Brazil, Colombia and Southeast Asia.

In wind power, onshore still dominates employment. Offshore jobs are growing with farms now based in 18 countries, compared to 10 a decade ago.

Hydropower still has the largest installed capacity albeit slower growth.

Leading and expanding markets

The diversification of renewable energy supply chains is changing the sector's geographic footprint.


Skills and gender equity are key

The chronic shortage of skilled workers could impede rapid deployment of renewables.

Women face challenges owing to insufficient skills and training opportunities, along with career choices often shaped by gender bias, cultural norms and perceptions.

As the renewable energy workforce continues to expand, education and training are crucial for all.

The transition will shape future energy employment

Renewable energy may already employ more people than fossil fuels and will certainly account for more future energy jobs.

Spending USD 1 million on renewables creates 7.49 full-time jobs on average, almost triple the 2.65 jobs in fossil fuels.

Intensified energy transition investment could increase jobs in renewables to almost 30 million globally by 2030.

Energy efficiency jobs could reach 29 million, while grids and energy system flexibility jobs could expand to 12 million.

Equitable, inclusive, resilient economies

Jobs have been affected by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the renewable energy sector has proven more resilient than fossil fuels.

Energy transition can represent a far-sighted investment when incorporated into post-COVID stimulus and recovery plans, helping to overcome the current economic slump and create much-needed jobs.

The post-COVID agenda put forward by IRENA could create some 5.5 million additional transition-related jobs, including energy efficiency and grid flexibility, over the next three years. Longer term, renewable energy jobs could grow to nearly 30 million globally by 2030 and to 42 million by 2050.

The moment for change is now

Linking the short-term recovery to medium and long-term strategies is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fulfill the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Comprehensive policies supporting the leveraging of local capacities will ensure job growth in renewables. Renewables jobs have also shown more inclusion and a better gender balance than fossil fuels.

The future of energy employment is powered by renewables.

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