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There are 11 Million Green Jobs - Where are they?

Green jobs in recent times have gained a stronger position in recent years thanks to a growing concerning over climate change and the environment.

This article presents statistics on the total number of Green jobs around the world. As the renewable energy sector continues to grow in popularity, more and more professionals are pursuing jobs in these fields.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report 2019, “Beyond climate goals, more and more governments are prioritizing green jobs as a driver of low-carbon economic growth in recognition of the numerous employment opportunities created by the transition to renewables.Green jobs deliver on all main pillars of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social and as the global energy transformation gains momentum, this employment dimension reinforces the social aspect of sustainable development.”

When we talk about 'Green jobs” this encompass all jobs that have a low carbon footprint. Examples are all forms of renewable energy generation like Solar, Wind, Hydro, Biofuels, Geothermal energy and tidal/wave energy that have a low carbon footprint.

Massive adoption of renewable energy technologies has helped generate 11 million Green job opportunities globally in 2018 and according to IRENA this represents an increase of 700,000 jobs from year 2017, growing nearly 7% in just one year. IRENA report also mentions that Green jobs grew from 7.28 million jobs in 2012 to 10.98 million the highest in 2018, though key renewable energy markets including China had reported losses in the year. Substantial growth came from countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, expanding the Green jobs sector beyond the chief employing markets of China, Brazil, the U.S., India and the EU while maintaining Asia’s 60% stake in Green jobs employment globally.

This article will present employment statistics for Green jobs, environmental jobs, renewable energy jobs, etc. centered around three criteria:

1. Breakdown of what countries have renewable energy and green jobs and what industries they are in.

2. Total number of renewable energy and green jobs around the globe.

1. What countries have the most Green jobs?

The IRENA report counts China, Brazil, US, India as top employers in Green jobs (Fig. 2).

Overall major Green job contribution is from Asia that accounted for 60 % of jobs in the renewable energy sector in 2018.

According to the IRENA report China is the leader in green jobs and renewable energy jobs employment worldwide, contributing to 39% of the world’s total, but down from the 43% share recorded in 2017. Until now, China, the United States and the European Union were major markets for renewable energy industries representing a dominant chunk of employment.

However, renewables industries have now significant presence in East and Southeast Asian countries, which have emerged key exporters of solar PV panels, along with China. Countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were responsible for a greater share of growth in green jobs last year, which allowed Asia to maintain a 60 percent share of Green jobs globally. India accounted for 719,000 jobs in 2018, the report noted.

China

China’s total number of renewable energy jobs employment throughout 2018 stood at 4.1 million. China has 39% of global renewable energy jobs the breakdown for which is

  • Solar PV: 2.2 million jobs
  • Solar Water Heating: 670,000 jobs
  • Wind: 510,000 jobs

Brazil

As per IRENA Brazil is the largest biofuels employer. Brazil’s Green job statistics is:

  • Biofuels: 832,000 jobs
  • Solar Water Heating: 41,000 jobs
  • Solar PV: 15,600 jobs
  • Wind: 34,000 jobs

Untied States

In the United States, the Liquid biofuels, Solar, and Wind industries are the largest employers in the renewable energy field .USA Green job numbers are :

  • Biofuels: 311,000 jobs
  • Solar: 242,000 jobs
  • Wind: 114,000 jobs

India

India has a total of 719,000 green jobs. Breakdown is:

  • Hydropower: 347,000 jobs
  • Solar PV: 115,000 jobs (Grid-connected)
  • Wind: 58,000 jobs

European union

EU had 1.2 million green jobs coming from the sector of Solid biomass, Wind energy and Solar PV. EU’s most recent data is from 2017 .As per this data the EU green jobs total was estimated at 1.2 million. Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy grabbed the top job rankings in most renewable energy sectors. Green jobs breakdown is as follows.

  • Solid biomass: 387,000 jobs
  • Wind: 3140,00 jobs
  • Solar PV: 96,000 jobs

2. The Green Job numbers

This section will address which renewable technology is the most dominant for green jobs around the world. Fig. 3 from IRENA report 2019 has renewable technologies ranked as per the number of jobs in that domain globally. According to IRENA report, solar PV remained the number one employer among renewable energy technologies in 2018, accounting for a third of the sector’s workflow. Asia made up nearly nine-tenths of the total PV jobs across the world.

Figure 3:Breakdown of RE employment by technology (IRENA, 2019)

Details of each technology and the corresponding number of global jobs are discussed below.

Solar PV: 3.6 million jobs

IRENA estimates that global solar PV employment stood at 3.6 million jobs in 2018. Of the leading ten countries in solar PV employment, eight are found to be in Asia. Overall, Asia is home to almost 3 million solar PV jobs (85% of the global total), followed by North America’s 6.4% share, Africa’s 3.9% and Europe’s 3.2%. Off grid PV employment has also risen over the years. This year’s global total also includes figures for off-grid jobs estimate of 372 000 jobs for South Asia and parts of Africa.

Main points:

  • East and Southeast Asia are gaining traction in solar PV installations resulting in increase in jobs.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the off grid job statistics for rural communities more than doubled from 17,800 job-years in 2014 to 36,500 by mid-2018.
  • Biogas, geothermal, waste to energy, geo thermal, CSP and ocean/wave energy Irena report mentions less people are employed in these industries, hence no figures available for them.

Liquid Biofuels-2 million jobs

Global jobs in Biofuels are estimated by IRENA, 2019 at 2 million, an increase of 6% from 2017. With 832000 jobs, Brazil has the world’s largest liquid biofuel workforce, has 40 % of jobs. USA had 311000 jobs. Biofuel employment in the European Union is estimated at 208000 jobs in 2017.

Wind -1.16 million jobs

Major chunk of wind power projects are still on land and are dominated by China and followed by Germany and the U.S.

Figure 5: Onshore Windmills generating power

The onshore and offshore wind power jobs employ 1.16 million people worldwide, an increase by 1% from 2017.

Hydropower -2 million jobs

2018 had over 2 million people working directly in the hydropower domain globally. The sector experienced a growth of 3% over the previous year. According to IRENA’s report, over 70% of hydropower jobs were in the operations and maintenance sector, while construction and installation contributed 23% of its workforce.

Solar heating and cooling -0.804 million jobs

Major solar heating and cooling markets, including China and Brazil, continued their downward trend in 2018, while India and several other markets showed increased activity (Malaviya 2019; Zhang 2019; Sother 2019). IRENA’s estimates indicate that global employment in the sector declined to 801400 jobs. Asia is home to 711000 jobs, 88% of the world total.

4. Women’s contribution in Green Jobs

Women currently 
represent 32% of the 
green jobs workforce globally. This is much higher than the 22%
average reported for the global oil and gas industry (see Fig 6)

5. Green Jobs and Renewable Energy Jobs ReCap

The greatest Green jobs growth came from countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, spreading the green jobs monopoly beyond the primary markets in China, Brazil, the U.S., India and the EU while maintaining Asia’s 60% stake in green employment globally.

Solar photovoltaic panels generate a third of employment in green jobs domain, driving much of the growth, followed by liquid biofuels, hydropower and wind power.

Off-grid renewables in India and Africa have also helped create jobs in decentralized form for rural communities.

Most of the wind industry’s pursuits are still on land, dominated by China and followed by Germany and the U.S.

Brazil’s Green job contribution comes from Biofuels jobs. Brazil has the world’s largest Liquid biofuel workforce, has 40 % of jobs. There were 2.1 million green jobs globally in biofuels.

References:

1. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/07/these-are-the-top-sectors-for-jobs-in-the-renewable-energy-industry.html

2. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/energy-efficiency/renewable-energy-provided-jobs-to-11-mn-people-in-2018-irena-report-65072

3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalieparletta/2019/06/17/11-million-people-now-have-jobs-in-renewable-energy/#633926ab17de

4. http://intersectenergy.com/fastest-growing-jobs-are-in-renewable-energy/

5. https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jun/Renewable-Energy-and-Jobs-Annual-Review-2019