ABU DHABI: A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says more than 7.7 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry - an 18 percent increase from last year. The rise covers solar, wind, biofuels, biomass, biogas and small hydropower.
The 10 countries with the largest employment in renewables are China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, France, Bangladesh and Colombia.
The report says the solar PV industry is the largest renewable energy employer with 2.5 million jobs globally, followed by liquid biofuels with 1.8 million and wind power - which has now surpassed one million jobs for the first time.
IRENA director general Adnan Amin commented: "We are seeing the widest spread of employment through renewable energy this year. Five of the 10 countries with the most renewable energy jobs are now located in Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Bangladesh."
As a result the U.S. and European Union now represent 25 percent of the world's renewable energy jobs compared to 31 percent two years ago.
With 3.4 million people employed, China leads the renewables job market. Sustained domestic deployment and rising global solar photovoltaic (PV) demand has resulted in a 4.0 percent increase in jobs to top 1.6 million. The country produced 70 percent of the world's solar PV volume in 2014.
By contrast, total EU renewable energy employment has fallen from 1.25 million to 1.2 million reflecting a sharp decrease in overall investment as well as adverse policy conditions says the report.
Germany remains the European country with the highest renewables employment with 371,400 jobs in 2013. This is more than double the number in France (176,200), which itself remains far ahead of the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. These five countries account for about 70 percent of total EU employment in the renewables sector.
Meanwhile: "In the United States, a country fast becoming a leader in renewable energy innovation, we are seeing a rapid rise in deployment of solar PV in particular, along with strong investment in wind in several states and a leading focus on development of advanced biofuels," said Amin. IRENA notes wind jobs in the U.S. have increased by almost half to 73,000 while total solar employment surged 22 percent to 173,800 in 2014.
The report concludes by suggesting the growth of the renewables sector will depend on more technology investment to reduce unit costs and in a year when negotiators in Paris aim to carve out a global climate agreement, a predictable geopolitical context.
IRENA is an intergovernmental organization with 139 Member States and the EU.