Renewable energy jobs are growing worldwide
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The renewable energy sector created more than 500,000 new jobs globally in 2017, with the total number of people employed in renewables surpassing 10 million for the first time.
Per the International Renewable Energy Agency’s report, "Renewable Energy and Jobs," jobs in the sector (including large hydropower) increased 5.3 percent in 2017, for a total of 10.3 million people employed worldwide, according to the fifth edition in the series.
China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan have remained the world’s largest renewable energy employers, per the report, representing more than 70 percent of all of the sector’s jobs.
The solar photovoltaic (solar panel production) industry supports the most jobs, increasing almost 9 percent to reach 3.4 million around the world in 2017, "reflecting the year’s record 94 gigawatts of (solar panel) installation," the report states.
Jobs in the global wind power industry fell to 1.15 million. Europe accounts for five of the world’s top 10 countries for installed wind power capacity.
A 2017 report by the Environmental Defense Fund, "Now Hiring: The Growth of America's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs," says that even the U.S. is pushing for the creation of new renewable energy jobs, built on decades of growth in the sector.
"New business models, goods and services, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, have emerged, while traditional businesses and institutions have made significant efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations," the report said.
A real-world example of this can be seen in California’s recent decision to require new homes to be built with solar power. The mandate is set to take effect in 2020 and is expected to add between $8,000 and $12,000 to the cost of a new home.
The Environmental Defense Fund report says green-based job sectors are "vastly outpacing the rest of the U.S. economy in growth and job creation, and are generating more jobs per dollar invested," with most having higher than average wages. Sustainability represents about 4.5 million jobs in the U.S., up from 3.4 million in 2011.
These jobs are generally considered stable in local economies, too, because they can’t be outsourced because of their on-site nature — including installation, maintenance and construction. Average wages for these energy efficiency jobs are almost $5,000 above the national median, and wages for solar workers are above the national median of $17.04 per hour.
For environmental advocates, energy-efficiency job growth is something to celebrate, as the sector has outstripped the fossil fuel industry.
Jobs in fossil fuel extraction and support services are slumping, down about 4.5 percent, while solar and wind jobs have grown at rates of about 20 percent annually in recent years and are each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy.
Additionally, the renewable transportation industry has seen similar growth, based on advancements in vehicle manufacturing and rising consumer demand. Clean vehicles in 2016 employed 48 percent more workers than in 2015; hybrid vehicles have experienced rapid growth, too, and now represent more than 70 percent of these jobs.
Public agencies and corporate entities are also investing in renewable energy efforts, increasingly requiring more sustainable goods and services based on consumer/public demand, and committing to increased environmental responsibility.
A 2016 GreenBiz survey found that about 75 percent of firms had dedicated sustainability budgets and 40 percent had grown their budgets. As companies continue to imbed sustainability throughout their organizations, job opportunities are likely to grow, the Environmental Defense Fund report pointed out.
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