Solar Job Creation Remains Bright

In addition to clean-burning power, the global renewable energy industry is generating something else the world vitally needs: jobs. 

And these aren’t just any jobs but socially responsible, potentially long-term positions that leave a positive impact on the environment.

As reported each May by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable jobs continue to grow. The 2016 renewable jobs market covering solar and wind power expanded 2.8 percent to 8.3 million in 2016. Of this total, 3.9 million jobs, or 46 percent, were in solar and 3.1 million were in photovoltaic solar, or PV solar.

All indications point to an even-rosier 2017 renewable jobs update from IRENA later this month reflecting expanded staffing of the solar infrastructure completed during the year.

As an emerging renewable energy developer, CSDR understands the direct link between employment in the renewable and solar sectors, including energy storage, electric vehicles and related segments, and overall industry health. From all accounts, both are thriving.

A closer look reveals some interesting regional trends. (Note: Because of its maturity relative to other energy sources, hydroelectric power is usually not included in renewable employment numbers.)

While renewable job growth in the United States has been spread evenly across solar and wind, solar PV employment is growing by double digits. Solar PV is also the big jobs gainer in India, which is benefiting from significant new solar infrastructure. And China, which saw a 3-percent rise in overall renewable energy jobs in 2016, logged a 19-percent increase in new solar employment.

And nowhere is the potential for renewable and solar job gains more pronounced then in Brazil, which employed just 4,000 PV solar employees in 2016 – less than one percent of the country’s total workforce in biofuels industries including sugar cane and ethanol processing. Most experts expect the solar employment number to jump dramatically when the 2017 report comes out later this month.

Clearly, solar remains the tip of the spear of global clean-energy job creation as more skilled workers are being drawn to the growing industry. As a company looking to retain an increasing percentage of those future employees, that trend excites us.  

Leslie Gomez