From The Editors Science

Renewable Energy Offers More Employment Than Traditional Energy

In May 2016, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released the “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2016” report at its 11th Annual Council Meeting held in Abu-Dhabi. The meeting witnessed the highest number of countries ever represented in an IRENA meeting – there were 300 high-level government officials, representing 96 countries, present at the council meeting.

Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing of the Bahamas was elected to Chair the meeting, and he opened with the following remarks:

“IRENA as a global organization has made tremendous contributions to the advancement of renewable energy, notwithstanding its relatively short history. The Bahamas has relied heavily on IRENA to chart its renewable energy future. We look forward to the deliberations over the next few days as countries come together to guide the work of the Agency, and are humbled to be elected Chair for this important meeting.”

Soon after the Chair election IRENA’s Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, released the Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2016 report.

“A lot has happened since IRENA’s establishment five years ago,” said the IRENA Director General. “We are implementing our new work program with determination and confidence that the current biennium holds great promise for accelerating the global uptake of renewable energy. We are proud of our achievements to date and energised by the unwavering support of our Members.”

In the Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2016 report IRENA estimated that Renewable Energy (Solar and Wind Power) provided employment to 8.1 million people on an international level in 2015 indicating a 5% increase from the previous year’s statistics – and the number did not include jobs in the large hydro-electricity sector for which a second global estimation was carried out showing an estimated 1.3 million direct jobs in that particular sector.

According to the IRENA report, although growth in global employment showed a downward trend as a whole that year, the aggregate number of jobs in the Renewable Energy sector combining Solar and Wind Energy indicated an increase. The case was the opposite in the conventional energy sector including oil, gas, and coal.

China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany witnessed the highest number of Renewable Energy jobs according to the IRENA estimation report released in May 2016.

The IRENA report is an indication that Renewable Energy Sector has a better potential of job creation than the conventional energy sector, oil gas and coal combined.

A more recent report released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) sort of verifies the earlier report by IRENA in that the solar energy sector witnessed more employment in the United States as compared to the conventional energy sector.

The U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) January 2017, indicates that the growth in employment numbers in the solar energy sector has been proportionally higher than in the conventional power generation sector involving oil, gas, and coal. According to the USEER this is mainly due to the development witnessed in the solar generation infrastructure, thereby, increasing the solar generation capacity.

Technicians working on solar panels.
Technicians working on solar panels.

“Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector,” says part of the 84 page PDF report (USEER). “This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity.”

Under the Electric Power Generation section the report says that the solar energy technologies provided 374,000 jobs accounting for 43% of the Electric Power Generation workforce.

The fossil fuel power generation sector, on the other hand, shows 187,117 workers accounting for 22% of the Power Generation workforce involving oil, gas, and coal power technologies.

According to the findings of the USEER, the Traditional Energy and the Energy Efficiency sectors employ about 6.4 million people within the United States which increased by 5% in 2016 “adding over 300,000 net new jobs, roughly 14% of all those created in the country.”

The contribution of the Traditional Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Motor Vehicle sectors have shown significant gains in the U.S. economy and represent 6% of all jobs across the United States according to the Conclusion section of the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), January 2017.

The above findings points towards a higher employability potential in the Renewable Energy sector as compared to the Conventional Energy sector. It is contrary to the incoming administration’s program of focussing more on the Conventional Energy sector according to President-elect Trump’s campaign policy in this regard.

One must remember that we are not only referring to the job creation potential of the Renewable Energy Sector but also the contribution it will make toward a greener environment and reduction in air pollution if given the proper government backing it needs.

In these times of global warming and ocean levels rising and the greenhouse effect being talked about by environmentalists all over, Renewable Energy is the way to go, one can safely presume.

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