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Renewables workforce nearly doubles in a decade

Workers inspect equipment at a hydropower plant in Zhangye, northern China. About 41% of renewables jobs are in China CFoto/Sipa USA
Workers inspect equipment at a hydropower plant in Zhangye, northern China. About 41% of renewables jobs are in China
  • 13.7m jobs worldwide in 2022 
  • Solar PV biggest sub-sector 
  • Middle East not among top employers

Employment in the renewable energy sector has almost doubled over the past decade, the International Renewable Energy Agency and International Labour Organization have found.

There were 13.7 million jobs in the global industry in 2022, up from 7.3 million in 2012, the agencies said in the report Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review.

Employment growth accelerated sharply between 2021 and 2022, with 1 million jobs added, as countries ramp up decarbonisation strategies and investment in renewables.

Most of the jobs are concentrated in a handful of key markets, the report found, and Middle Eastern countries are not among the top employers.

The biggest market is China, which accounts for 41 percent of the jobs. Brazil, the European Union, India and the US are the other significant markets.

Together, they represent the majority of global renewables capacity installations and play the biggest roles in the manufacturing of equipment, engineering and associated services, the report said. 

The Middle East was named as one of the top recipients of solar photovoltaics exports, after Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Africa.

Solar PV was the renewables sub-sector that employed most people in 2022, keeping its top spot from the 2021 report. It provided 4.9 million jobs last year, more than a third of the total renewable energy workforce. Hydropower and biofuels had around 2.5 million jobs each, followed by wind power with 1.4 million jobs.

Francesco La Camera, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, described 2022 as “another outstanding year for renewable energy jobs, amid multiplying challenges”. 

He added: “Creating many more millions of jobs will require a much faster pace of investments in energy transition technologies. Earlier this month, the G20 leaders agreed to accelerate efforts to triple global renewables capacity by 2030, aligned with our recommendations ahead of Cop28

“Policymakers [must] use this momentum as an opportunity to adopt ambitious policies that drive systemic change.”

Gilbert Houngbo, director general of the International Labour Organization, urged governments to support sustainable enterprises, skills development, occupational health and safety and workers’ rights, to capitalise on the job creation potential of renewables.