More than 9.8 million people were in employment in the renewable energy sector in 2016.
This is according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports nations in their conversion to a sustainable energy future.
“Declining costs and enabling policies have gradually driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over five million people were working in the sector,” says IRENA director-general Adnan Amin.
“In the last four years, for example, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors joint has more than doubled.”
While the South African renewable energy industry has mainly been called as a success story, there are fears government is looking to prioritize nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix.
According to industry body, the South African Renewable Energy Council, the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme has produced more than 26 000 jobs in just four years.
Nevertheless, the local renewable energy industry is facing doubt following delays by Eskom and the Department of Energy to sign new power purchase agreements. In the midst of the impasse, the City of Cape Town is championing the use of green energy.
In Africa, IRENA says utility-scale renewable energy developments have made huge steps, with SA and North Africa accounting for three-quarters of the continent’s 62 000 renewable jobs.
“In some African countries, with the right resources and infrastructure, we are seeing jobs materialize in manufacturing and installation for utility-scale projects,” says Rabia Ferroukhi, head of IRENA’s policy unit and deputy director of knowledge, policy and finance.
The Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017, released at IRENA’s 13th Council meeting, demonstrates worldwide renewable energy employment, excluding large hydropower, reached eight million in 2016.