Canada officially became a member of the the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on January 9th, on the eve of the 9th Session of the Assembly in Abu Dhabi, where 1,200 delegates from more than 160 governments, the private sector and civil society met. IRENA describes itself as: “an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.”
Canada’s membership brings to 160 the number of countries participating in IRENA, and will make it easier for Canadians to place their renewable energy development in an international context, by inclusion such flagship publications , such as the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review . Recently, Vancouver B.C. was profiled as a case study in the IRENA publication Scaling up Renewables in Cities: Opportunities for Municipal Governments .
The official press release from Canada’s ministry of Natural Resources was brief, and did not indicate any future plans for Canada’s involvement in IRENA research activities. Some context is provided in a news item from the National Observer .
The 2016 edition of Tracking the Clean Energy Revolution: Canada was released by Clean Energy Canada in June with an upbeat message, despite the fact that renewable energy investment and development slowed in some provinces ( 89% in Alberta, 52% in British Columbia, 15% in Ontario, and 9% in Quebec). At the same time, investment grew in Atlantic Canada, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, so that it was still Canada’s second-best year on record for clean energy spending, and renewable generation capacity grew by 4 per cent. The main message of the report, however, is that a new spirit of cooperation and ambition has developed with the change of leadership in the federal government. The report lists the renewable projects, their size, and companies involved throughout the country, but doesn’t report on employment impacts. For that, consult the latest survey by the International Renewable Energy Agency, Renewable Energy and Jobs 2016 . Canada ranks 11th, with an estimated 36,000 clean energy jobs, well behind the top countries of China (with 3.5 million jobs!), Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany. Solar Photovoltaics continues to be the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs worldwide in 2015, an 11% increase over 2014. For the first time, IRENA published gender-based employment figures, based on their own online survey. Women represent 35% of the workforce in the 90 renewable energy companies surveyed from 40 countries – higher than the energy industry average of 20-25%. On average, women represent 46% of the administrative workforce, 28% of the technical workforce, and 32% of management roles. Earlier IRENA reports are here .
Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2015 is the new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It shows a growth of 18% in one year in the global workforce in renewable energy, and estimates that “doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030, would result in more than 16 million jobs worldwide.” Solar PV is the largest employer in the renewable energy sector, with 2.5 million jobs, mostly in China and the Asian countries. Solar PV employment in the European Union decreased by 35% to about 165,000 jobs in 2013. Countries highlighted in the Annual Review are China, India, Brazil, U.S., EU, Germany, France, Japan, Bangladesh. There are 140 member countries of IRENA , but Canada is not a member. The most recent information about Canada’s renewable energy jobs appeared in Clean Energy Canada’s December 2014 report, Tracking the Energy Revolution 2014 .