Strong demand for renewable energy creating thousands of new jobs

Author: PM Editorial | Date: 22 June 2016

Record year for global installation of wind turbines and Malaysia’s solar sector is growing steadily

A rise in global demand for renewable energy is creating thousands of new jobs across Asia.
More than 8.1 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). That’s a five per cent increase on last year and one that looks set to continue, despite an overall drop in jobs in the energy sector when coal and oil are included in the figures.
“The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector,” said IRENA’s director-general Adnan Z Amin. “This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks.
“As the ongoing energy transition accelerates, growth in renewable energy employment will remain strong. IRENA’s research estimates that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 – enough to meet global climate and development targets – would result in more than 24 million jobs worldwide,” said Amin.
The report found that 60 per cent of the world’s renewable energy jobs are in Asia. China is responsible for a large proportion of those, but increased manufacturing of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in Malaysia and South Korea mean they are playing their part in job creation too.
Indonesia’s palm oil-based biofuel industry hit hard times in 2015 when it lost 223,000 jobs because of low global oil prices. But smaller biofuel industries in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines have continued to grow steadily and employ almost 120,000 people between them.
A record year for installations of wind turbines was a big factor in the five per cent global increase in renewable jobs, and Chinese firm Goldwind is now the world’s largest wind energy organisation in terms of new capacity commissioned.
The largest employer in the renewable sector is solar PV (2.77 billion), followed by liquid biofuels (1.67 billion) and wind energy (1.08 billion).
The news of growth in Asia’s renewable energy sector comes at the same time as China is cutting huge numbers of jobs in coal. However, it does continue a global trend of investment in renewables, as is currently being experienced in the Middle East.