IRENA publishes renewable energy jobs report

By Erin Voegele | May 20, 2015

The International Renewable Energy Agency has released a new report that determined more than 7.7 million people worldwide were employed by the renewable energy industry in 2014, including, 822,000 jobs in biomass, 381,000 jobs in biogas, and 1.788 million in liquid biofuels. When compared to the 6.5 million renewable energy jobs reported in 2013, the total increase across all technology types is 18 percent.

“Renewable energy continues to assert itself as a major global employer, generating strong economic and social benefits worldwide,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This increase is being driven, in part, by declining renewable energy technology costs, which creates more jobs in installation, operations and maintenance. We expect this upward trend to continue as the business case for renewable energy continues to strengthen.”

In China, 521,000 people were employed in the bioenergy sector last year, with biomass supporting 241,000 of those jobs and biogas supporting 209,000. However, IRENA said employment in biofuels is likely to increase as incentives such as blending are enforced.

In the European Union, solid biomass added 37,900 jobs. According to IRENA, the European biomass sector how has 342,100 jobs, topping wind, solar photovoltaic, and geothermal heat and power. Europe also has 97,200 jobs in the biofuels sector.

In the U.S., the ethanol industry has an estimated 232,600 jobs, with the biodiesel industry yielding approximately 49,500 jobs. Brazil’s ethanol industry features an additional 199,590 jobs, down slightly due to a consolidation of refineries in recent years. Brazil’s biodiesel industry also features 141,200 jobs.

Overall, China, Brazil, the U.S., India and Germany are key employers in the renewable energy industry. According to IRENA, global jobs in the modern biomass industry reached 822,000 in 2014, up from 782,000 in 2013, while liquid biofuels jobs increased from 1.45 million in 2013 to 1.8 million in 2014. Biogas jobs also increased, reaching 381,000 in 2014, up from 264,000 in 2013.

A full copy of IRENA’s report, titled “Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2015,” can be downloaded from the organization’s website.