The State Of Global Renewable Energy Employment
In 2018, 11 million people were directly and indirectly employed in the renewable energy sector around the world, an increase on 10.3 million the year before, according to data published by the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar photovoltaic accounted for 3.6 million jobs, 3.2 million were in bioenergy, 1.2 million were in wind and the rest were distributed across several industries such as solar heating and biogas. Even though the renewable energy sector has an increasingly diverse geographic footprint, the bulk of employment is concentrated in a handful of countries.
Today, China is the clear leader in renewable energy employment with 4.1 million jobs in 2018, 39% of the global total. Despite that impressive figure, China’s job count actually dropped in comparison with 2017 due to a fall in solar PV employment amid a suspension of subsidies and lower domestic sales. Brazil comes a distant second for employment in renewables and it remains the world’s largest biofuels employer. 832,000 people were employed in its biofuel sector last year while total employment in renewables was approximately 1.1 million. That looks set to increase even further as Brazil continues to ramp up its wind and solar activities.
Despite the Trump administration’s coal-friendly policies, employment in the U.S. renewable energy sector rose from around 786,000 in 2017 to 855,000 in 2018. 311,000 of those jobs were in biofuels while solar and wind accounted for 242,000 and 114,000 jobs respectively. Uncertainty around U.S. tariff policy and state-level changes in California and Massachusetts are having an impact on some parts of the renewables sector, however, and solar recorded its second consecutive year of job losses. Elsewhere, India is making dramatic progress and its renewable energy jobs total skyrocketed from 432,000 to 719,000 between 2017 and 2018.
*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)