Large hydropower supports about 1.3 million direct jobs worldwide, according to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
This number, from the Renewable Energy and Jobs — Annual Review 2016, is considered a conservative estimate, IRENA says. However, the report also says that jobs in large and small hydropower, liquid biofuels and solar heating and cooling decreased due to various factors, including increased mechanization, slowing housing markets, the removal of subsidies and the drop in new installations.
Broadly, the report indicates more than 8.1 million people are now employed worldwide by the renewable energy industry, a 5% increase from last year. Solar photovoltaic was the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs, followed by liquid biofuels with 1.7 million. Countries with the most renewable energy jobs in 2015 included China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Japan and Germany.
“The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for renewables strengthens and as countries move to achieve their climate targets agreed in Paris.”
In addition, “IRENA’s early research indicates that the renewable energy sector employed larger shares of women than the broader energy sector,” according to a press release.