In its fourth annual report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 , the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presents statistics on renewable energy employment, both by technology and in selected countries. For this 2017 edition, it includes statistics for large-scale hydropower, and also the results for a workplace survey in the Middle East and North Africa on barriers to women in clean energy labour markets. The worldwide statistics show that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power was the largest employer, with 3.1 million jobs (an increase of 12% from 2015); global wind employed 1.2 million people (an increase of 7%); large hydro employed 1.5 million people, with around 60% of those in operation and maintenance. However, given that Canada is the world’s 2nd biggest hydropower producer (after China), and that Canada is not included in the IRENA numbers, this figure could be questioned. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs.
In general, IRENA reports that the rate of for renewable job growth slowed down in 2015 and 2016, with the exception of the solar PV and wind categories, which have more than doubled since 2012. In contrast, employment in solar heating and cooling and large hydropower has declined. Nevertheless, IRENA predicts that “the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world”. It also notes that ”significant efforts in training and education is needed to provide the labour market with the required skills.”
The gender discrimination survey of labour markets in the Middle East and North Africa was conducted jointly by IRENA, the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The survey found that discrimination seems less pronounced in renewable energy employment than in the energy sector at large, but “challenges remain for women in regard to employment and promotion.”