Renewable Energy Jobs Globally Reach 12.7 million, Asia Accounts for Two-Thirds

The sector generated 700,000 new jobs in 2021


Worldwide employment in renewable energy reached 12.7 million in 2021, an increase of 700,000 new jobs despite economic setbacks resulting from Covid-19 and the growing energy crisis.

According to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), China accounts for 42% of the global total, with 5.4 million people employed in the renewables sector, followed by Brazil with 1.27 million jobs and the European Union with 1.24 million jobs, accounting for 10% each. The U.S., with 920,000 jobs, and India, with 863,000 jobs, accounted for 7% each in 2021.

Renewable Energy Employment in Selected Countries

“In the face of numerous challenges, renewable energy jobs remain resilient and have been proven to be a reliable job creation engine,” Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s Director-General, said.

Solar was the fastest-growing sector in 2021, providing 4.3 million jobs, up from about 4 million in 2020. Asian countries accounted for 79% of the world’s solar photovoltaic jobs, reflecting the region’s continued manufacturing dominance and strong presence in installations.

India’s on-grid solar employment is estimated at 137,000 jobs, with another 80,600 in off-grid settings, for a total of 217,600 jobs.

China, the leading producer of photovoltaics, accounted for about 63% of employment worldwide, with 2.7 million jobs.

In May 2022, China added about 6.83 GW of solar capacity, an increase of 86% month-over-month (MoM). In June, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the country is likely to add 108 GW by the end of 2022.

In the wind sector, 93 GW of capacity was installed globally in 2021. The global employment in onshore and offshore wind grew to 1.4 million jobs in 2021, from 1.25 million in 2020.

Most wind employment is concentrated in a relatively small number of countries. China alone accounted for 48%, while Asia represented 57%. Europe accounted for 25% of the global total in the wind sector.

Estimated Number of Direct & Indirect Jobs in Renewable Energy

India’s job potential

According to the report, reaching India’s goal of 500 GW of non-fossil-fuel energy sources by 2030 could create 3.4 million new job opportunities. It mentions that India’s combined wind and solar workforce stood at 111,400 people in 2021, including 43,000 jobs in rooftop solar, 42,900 in utility-scale solar, and 25,500 in the wind sector.

Strong domestic markets were key to anchoring the drive towards clean energy industrialization and developing renewable technology export capabilities.

In India, over 100,000 people were trained between 2015 and 2021, of which 78,000 were certified under the national solar energy Suryamitra training program. The success of Suryamitra led to the creation of similar programs, including Vayumitra (for wind installers) and Varunmitra (for solar pump installers).

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy’s proposal to implement the second phase of the production-linked incentive program to achieve gigawatt-scale manufacturing of high-efficiency solar photovoltaic modules domestically. This was to help eliminate the dependency on imports as well as help boost local employment in the sector.

In August this year, the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) invited applications from institutions interested in imparting training under the Vayumitra Skill Development Program for the financial year 2022-23 to 2023-24.