Renewable energy employed up to 12 million people worldwide in 2020

Update Renewable energy employed up to 12 million people worldwide in 2020
Solar energy jobs led the way in renewables employment, accounting for 33 percent of jobs. (Getty Images)
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Updated 22 October 2021

Renewable energy employed up to 12 million people worldwide in 2020

Renewable energy employed up to 12 million people worldwide in 2020
  • Sector created 500,000 jobs last year

RIYADH: The renewable energy industry created half a million jobs in 2020 so that 12 million people were employed in the sector at the end of the year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Solar energy jobs led the way in renewables employment, accounting for 33 percent of jobs, IRENA and the ILO said in a report titled World Energy Transitions Outlook. Liquid biofuels had a 20 percent share of jobs.

“The potential for renewable energy to generate decent work is a clear indication that we do not have to choose between environmental sustainability on the one hand, and employment creation on the other,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in the report. “The two can go hand-in-hand.”

China held the bulk of renewable energy jobs, with 39 percent, followed by Brazil and India, at 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Other countries rapidly generating employment in the sector include Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The transition to renewable energy will more than offset job losses in traditional energy, the report predicted, with 24-25 million jobs created by 2030 compared with 6-7 million roles lost by the transition.

The report also expects that 43 million people will be working in the renewable energy sector by 2050.

Renewable energy needs to deliver on its promise to support more jobs if it is to survive the political forces in many Western countries that seek to stop it in its tracks.

According to the 5th annual Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, 78 percent percent of oil and gas employees feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago.

A lot of people work in the oil and gas industry globally, led by an estimated 86 million in China. The traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors in the US supported 6.8 million jobs at the end of 2019, of which more than 1.1 million work in fuels, such as oil and gas, and almost 2.4 million work in energy efficiency.

In the UK, green groups and unions have called for an "offshore passport" to help oil and gas workers transition more easily to clean energy jobs.

They say many of the skills between jobs on rigs and renewables are similar but it is complicated and costly to get re-certified within the energy industry, making a smooth green transition impossible.

A survey of more than 600 offshore oil and gas workers revealed two thirds said in the past two years they had had to pay for all their training themselves, up from 45 percent in 2015.