In a significant milestone for the renewable energy industry, the global workforce in the sector expanded to over 13.7 million jobs in 2022, marking a substantial increase of one million jobs compared to the previous year and nearly doubling the figures from a decade ago. These findings come from the latest collaborative report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The report – Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2023 ­– highlights how substantial investments in the renewable energy sector have triggered a surge in job opportunities worldwide, a trend that has persisted despite global crises and challenges.

The data underscores that the majority of these renewable energy jobs continue to be concentrated in a select few countries. Leading the way is China, which accounts for a substantial 41% of the global total, closely followed by Brazil, European Union (EU) countries, India, and the US. These nations not only drive capacity installations but also play pivotal roles in equipment manufacturing, engineering, and related services.

In the year 2022, solar photovoltaics (PV) maintained its status as the most significant employer within the sector, providing job opportunities for 4.9 million individuals, representing over a third of the global renewable energy workforce. Hydropower sustained its employment figures from the prior year, maintaining approximately 2.5 million jobs. Similarly, biofuels saw a stable level of employment, while wind power contributed 1.4 million jobs.

Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, commended this outstanding growth, stating, " 2022 was another outstanding year for renewable energy jobs, amid multiplying challenges. Creating many more millions of jobs will require a much faster pace of investments in energy transition technologies.”

La Camera continued by noting that recent commitments by G20 leaders to accelerate global renewable capacity align with IRENA's recommendations, and he urged policymakers to seize this momentum to implement ambitious policies driving essential systemic changes.

Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General of ILO, highlighted the importance of inclusive policies and strategies to support renewable energy job creation. He emphasized the need to develop specific policies for economic growth, sustainable enterprises, skills development, and labor market interventions.

The report also underscores the importance of focusing on the quality of jobs within the renewable energy sector. To ensure social justice and inclusivity during the transition to cleaner energy, integrated frameworks must prioritize fair wages, occupational safety, workers' rights, and effective social dialogue.

Moreover, the report advocates for expanding educational and training opportunities, particularly for youth, minorities, and marginalized groups, to foster a more diverse and equitable workforce. Gender equity remains a significant area for improvement, with the report revealing that gender balance in solar technology outperforms other sectors, with 40% of jobs held by women.

Increasingly, countries are showing interest in localizing supply chains and bolstering domestic job creation through well-planned industrial policies. These initiatives align with the growing desire to enhance energy supply security while maintaining global cooperation in pursuit of an ambitious energy transition.