(25 May 2021) The renewable energy sector directly or indirectly employed nearly 11.5 million people in 2019, reflecting a 4% increase over the previous year, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable energy (RE) employment has risen 34% percent since 2013, adding almost 3 million new jobs to the global economy. The solar photovoltaic (PV), bioenergy, hydropower, and wind power industries have become the biggest employers of the renewable energy sector. China tops the list of the total number of RE jobs per country, leading other major economies by a large margin. Latvia and Denmark are the top countries in terms of RE share in total employment, with renewables representing 3.79% and 1.5% of jobs, respectively, followed by Croatia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Colombia, and Finland.

  • The solar PV industry employed nearly 3.75 million people worldwide as of the end of 2019, the most recent year for which such data is available. Bioenergy provided 3.58 million jobs, of which 2.5 million were in the liquid biofuels subsector. Nearly 1.96 million people were employed in hydropower, and 1.17 million more worked in the wind energy industry.
  • Employment growth was the highest in the solar PV technology industry, which showed a 65% increase from 2013 to 2019 (almost 1.5 million new jobs added). Employment increased significantly during the same period in the solar heating/cooling industry (an increase of 64%), bioenergy (43%), and wind energy (41%). In contrast, hydropower lost nearly 250 thousand jobs, representing an 11% decrease, over the seven-year period.
  • As for geographical distribution, seven of the ten countries with the most renewable energy jobs are Asian. China accounted for 38% of all existing jobs in the RE sector in 2019, which equals more than 4 million workers. Brazil represented 10% of RE jobs, due to its highly developed hydro energy industry that makes up a 64% share of the country's electricity generation. A 7% share of RE jobs were in India, and 6% in the United States.
  • In the US, more than 755 thousand people were employed in the renewable energy sector, compared with 83.8 thousand workers in the fossil fuel generation and transmission sector. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  the number of workers employed in fossil fuel and nuclear electricity generation is expected to decline significantly — by 23.3 thousand and 15.6 thousand jobs, respectively — by 2029. At the same time, the BLS estimates that the number of workers directly employed in renewable electricity generation will grow by 2.7 thousand, to a total of 23.2 thousand people employed, by 2029.

NOTE: IRENA's estimates include indirect jobs in manufacturing and jobs in the production of biofuels in addition to the direct jobs count, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics includes only direct jobs in electric power generation.

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