In a remarkable achievement for the renewable energy industry, global employment in renewable energy reached a staggering 13.7 million jobs in 2022, marking a significant increase of one million since 2021 and a remarkable leap from the 7.3 million recorded in 2012. This remarkable growth is detailed in the tenth edition of the “Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2023,” a collaborative effort between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
MAGNET OF INVESTMENTS
The report underscores that renewable energy has become a magnet for investments, which, in turn, have fueled job creation across a growing number of nations. Notably, while this growth is evident worldwide, several states continue to dominate the renewable energy job market, with China leading the pack, contributing a substantial 41% to the global total. Other prominent contributors include Brazil, European Union (EU) countries, India, and the United States of America (USA). These nations play pivotal roles not only in capacity installations but also in equipment manufacturing, engineering, and related services.
Solar photovoltaics (PV) stood out as the largest employer in the renewable energy sector in 2022, with an impressive 4.9 million jobs, accounting for over a third of the entire workforce in the industry. Meanwhile, hydropower and biofuels maintained similar job numbers as in 2021, with approximately 2.5 million each, while wind power created 1.4 million jobs.
Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, highlighted the extraordinary growth, stating that “2022 was another outstanding year for renewable energy jobs, amid multiplying challenges.” He urged for accelerated investments in energy transition technologies to create millions more jobs, aligning with the G20 leaders’ recent commitment to tripling global renewables capacity by 2030.
Gilbert F. Houngbo, ILO Director-General, stressed the importance of inclusive policies to harness opportunities for productive employment and social inclusion during these transitions. He called for a holistic approach encompassing sustainable enterprises, skills development, labor market interventions, social protection, occupational safety and health, and workers’ rights.
QUALITY OF JOB
The report emphasizes that the quality of jobs is as crucial as their quantity, advocating for a just and inclusive transition in which wages, occupational safety and health, and workers’ rights are prioritized. It suggests that the ILO’s Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all serve as a central reference for policymakers and stakeholders to ensure a just transition.
Moreover, a just and inclusive energy transition should focus on workforce development, diversity, and gender equity. The report highlights the need for expanding education, training, and career opportunities for youth, minorities, and marginalized groups while promoting greater gender balance in renewable energy jobs. Currently, solar technology stands out for its 40% female workforce, making it a leader in gender equity within the sector.
Many countries are increasingly interested in localizing supply chains and boosting domestic job creation, supported by relevant industrial policies. This trend aligns with efforts to reduce energy supply insecurities. China has successfully pursued these industrial policies for years, and other countries, including the EU, India, Japan, South Africa, and the USA, are now taking steps to stimulate domestic manufacturing. Nevertheless, the report stresses the importance of combining localization efforts with global cooperation to achieve ambitious energy transition goals.