The first-ever Global Renewables Outlook report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was released in April, following up on their 2019 report, Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050 . At 292 pages, the full report provides detailed statistics on the sectors within the renewable energy industry, demand forecasts, economy-wide impacts of energy transformation – including job impacts – and regional analysis for ten broad global regions (Canada is lumped in with the U.S. and Mexico as “North America”). It addresses the pathways of electrification, system flexibility, renewable energy, green hydrogen, and innovation relating to energy and industry decarbonization. The official Summary Report (54 pages) is here . Summaries and commentary appear in “Renewables Agency urges $110-Trillion Green Infrastructure Investment to Supercharge Recovery, Boost Resilience” in The Energy Mix and in “Green energy could drive Covid-19 recovery with $100tn boost” (April 20) in The Guardian. A compilation of the regional fact sheets and infographics is here .
Although headlines will focus on the price tag of $1 Trillion for investment, the “Jobs and Skills” section is also notable. It considers two scenarios: “Planned Energy (PE)” and “Transforming Energy” (TE) and forecasts job numbers by subsector, as well as broad occupational demands. Some examples: in the TE scenario, the report forecasts close to 30 million renewable energy jobs by 2030 and 42 million by 2050. Regional-level forecasts are also provided: for example, renewable energy jobs in North America are forecast to represent 23.0% of total energy jobs under the TE scenario by 2030 and 35.3% by 2050.
Coming as it does during the Covid-19 crisis, Global Renewables Outlook joins the chorus advocating investment in renewables as the vehicle for a sustainable economic recovery:
“With the need for energy decarbonisation unchanged, such investments can safeguard against short-sighted decisions and greater accumulation of stranded assets. COVID-19 does not change the existential path required to decarbonise our societies and meet sustainability goals. …. Economic recovery packages must serve to accelerate a just transition. … The time has come to invest trillions, not into fossil fuels, but into sustainable energy infrastructure.”