According to a new report released by an environment and energy consultancy, 9.4 million people globally work in renewable energy, more than at any other point in history.
The report was released by Allen and York, and it states that 2.8 million people work in solar PV, 1.6 million in liquid biofuels, and 1 million in wind, reflecting a “5% increase in 2015 and confirms the strength of this relatively new industry.”
Despite Trump’s best efforts, the US is still one of the leaders in renewable energy, alongside China, Brazil, India, Japan, and Germany. This relatively new industry has been more effective in creating jobs than coal or oil in the United States, and previous research has suggested that in terms of job generation, the overall potential of the renewable energy sector is much higher than that of the fossil fuel industry. This is easily visible in existing figures, as more and more Americans work in and support renewables. The report states:
“Exciting developments across US solar and wind has seen a 6% increase in renewable energy employment in 2016, reaching a total of 769,000 people working across the industry. According to figures published by the US Department of Energy (US DOE), the solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%.Driven by plummeting costs and growing consumer appetite, the renewable energy sector in the US looks set to thrive, despite their climate-sceptic President.”
This is not limited to the US or a specific area of the world. In Morocco, for instance, the market could soon yield over half a million new jobs, mostly in the solar industry (something which Morocco is already famous for). Despite highly questionable leadership, one in five Australian homes use solar energy, China has already cemented their dominance in terms of renewable energy generation, and Europe as a whole is also taking strides in the right direction, though with a slightly different twist. Residential solar energy is growing in popularity, especially in Germany, where ambitious tariffs facilitated great development in rooftop solar. Despite a natural trend, the role of good governance is extremely important, in more than one way.
Interestingly, the report also underscores the significance of education for the future of renewables. As more and more jobs emerge and diversify, having well-educated, qualified professionals is vital. Referring to the UK specifically, the report states:
“Digital skills should be included in the government’s future definition of basic skills and a comprehensive programme of upskilling developed in partnership with industry and training providers to ensure that the UK workforce at all levels” the report states. “A much greater, targeted focus is needed on promoting STEM subjects and engineering careers to under-represented groups (including women, people from BAME communities and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds) to fully unlock the talent potential in the UK.”
No matter how you look at it, the future appears bright for renewable jobs. Renewable energy technologies are getting cheaper, installations are growing almost exponentially year after year. For such a new industry, the results are indeed stunning. Hopefully, the world will embrace it instead of clinging to the past.