A boom in solar and wind power jobs in the US led the way to a global increase in renewable energy employment to more than 8 million people in 2015, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). More than 769,000 people were employed in renewable energy in the US in 2015, dwarfing the 187,000 employed in the oil and gas sector and the 68,000 in coal mining. The gap is set to grow further, with jobs in solar and wind growing by more than 20% in 2015, while oil and gas jobs fell by 18% as the fossil fuel industry struggled with low prices. Across the world, employment in renewable energy grew by 5% in 2015, boosted by supportive government policies and subsidies including tax credits in the US, although jobs in renewables fell in Europe. The growth was despite renewable energy subsidies being far outweighed by subsidies for fossil fuels, where jobs were lost. Another contrast, according to the Irena report, is the greater proportion of women employed in renewable energy compared to the wider energy sector. Irena found 35% of renewable energy sector jobs were held by women, compared to 20-25% in the wider energy sector, although the agency noted the renewables percentage remains lower than women’s overall share in employment of 40-50% in most OECD countries. Renewables employment fell in the European Union for the fourth year running, due to the Eurozone economic crisis and the cutting of subsidies and other support. The UK employed 112,000 people in renewables in 2015, according to Irena. The report said: “The UK became the continent’s large st [solar panel] installation market, and the second-largest [solar] employer with 35,000 people. However, cuts in feed-in tariffs for residential rooftops in the UK could result in a loss of 4,500 to 8,700 solar jobs according to UK government’s own estimates.
Guardian 25th May 2016 read more »