According to a recent report, “Recruitment and career opportunities within the UK, European and global renewable and clean energy markets”, published by Allen & York, a technical recruitment consultancy, over 9.4 million people now work in renewable energy, including 2.8 million in solar PV and 1 million in the wind sector.
In a recent report from IRENA, entitled Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2016, they estimate that employment within global renewable energy increased by 5% in 2015 to reach 8.1 million (with an additional 1.3 million people employed in large hydropower).
Solar PV was the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs worldwide, an 11% increase on the previous year. Solar PV employment grew in Japan and the United States, stabilised in China (due in the main to manufacturing) and decreased across Europe. More than 1 million people are employed across the global wind industry and the total wind energy capacity is at nearly 487 GW.
According to the data, China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Japan and Germany ranked highest for the number of renewable energy jobs. China continues to lead the world in renewable employment, with more than with 3.5 million people employed in the sector. Last year, China contributed to more than a third of the global renewable energy capacity.
Renewables employment in the US increased by 6% last year, reaching 769,000 people, driven by a boom in solar and wind. According to figures published by the US Department of Energy (US DOE), the solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%.
In Europe, the largest employers are the wind, solar PV and solid biomass industries. Germany, Spain, the UK, France and Italy lead the field in installed wind capacity across Europe, and the European solar market has increased by 15% of installed capacity in 2015. The report outlines that, in the UK, a long period of growth in the wind and solar industries over the past decade has plateaued in the last two years due to a decrease in large-scale projects. Despite this slowdown, existing wind and solar farms still require staffing and optimising to their full capacity. This is reflected in a significant shift in job opportunities in the onshore wind and solar sectors.
There has been a move from engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) and development to asset management and operations and management (O&M). Optimisation of assets is paramount to achieving maximum output from existing developments, and as a result the report sees a steady demand for analysts and asset managers, site managers and technicians to enable the smooth and consistent output of power from these sites. The report also projects growth in the offshore wind sector (2017/18) following a period of reduced recruitment activity last year, as a number of projects come online.
In summary, employment prospects across the global renewable energy sector continue to be optimistic. IRENA research estimates that doubling the percentage of renewable energy across the global energy mix (which is in-line with current targets) would result in more than 24 million jobs worldwide – offering plenty of exciting new job opportunities across the industry.
Source: Allen & York