Solar retains top jobs spot as renewables employment climbs to 11.5m

Photo by Creamer Media





Renewable-energy jobs rose to 11.5-million globally last year, from 11-million in 2018, with the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry retaining its leading position with 3.8-million jobs, a new study shows.

The ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2020’, published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), estimates that 3.1-million of these solar PV jobs are in Asia, which added 55 GW of the 97 GW of new solar PV installed globally last year.


The report states that global solar PV employment increased by 4% last year and that seven of the leading ten countries are based in Asia, including China, India, Japan and Vietnam.

Africa, meanwhile, accounted for 3.7% of global solar PV employment in 2019.


The global total includes an estimate of 372 000 off-grid jobs for South Asia and parts of Africa.

Biofuels jobs followed closely behind solar PV, reaching 2.5-million. Many of these jobs, the report states, are in the agricultural supply chain, particularly in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Other large employers in the renewables sector are the hydropower and wind industries, with close to 2-million and 1.2-million jobs, respectively.

Irena states that women hold 32% of the jobs in the renewables sector as a whole, higher than the 21% held by women in the fossil fuels sector.

The review argues that comprehensive policies – led by education and training measures, labour market interventions, and industrial policies that support the leveraging of local capacities – are essential for sustaining the renewables jobs expansion.

“Policy makers must also prioritise reskilling for fossil fuel sector workers who have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Many have considerable skills and expertise to contribute to a reoriented, clean energy industry,” the agency argues.

The jobs review follows the recent publication of Irena’s ‘Post-Covid Recovery Agenda’, which estimates that an ambitious stimulus programme could create up to 5.5-million more jobs over the next three years than a business-as-usual approach.

Such an initiative would also allow the world, the agency adds, to stay on track for creating the 42-million renewables jobs that its Global Renewables Outlook projects for 2050.