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More than 9.4 million people work in the renewable energy sector across the globe

According to a report by Allen & York, the 9.4 million includes 2.8 million in solar PV, 1.6 million in liquid biofuels and 1 million in wind, reflecting a “5% increase in 2015 and confirms the strength of this relatively new industry.”

 The report states that China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany currently have the most renewable energy jobs.  Europe still has a strong renewables market, it says, despite the withdrawal of subsidies in the UK for new wind and solar developments.  Germany, Spain, the UK, France and Italy “lead the field in installed wind capacity across Europe”, and the solar marketplace has “grown by 15% of installed capacity in 2015”, prompting SolarEurope to describe Europe as the most “solarized continent”.

What else does the report highlight?

However, after a long period of growth in UK wind and solar over the past 10 years, the last 2 years has seen a major slowdown in large-scale developments, due in the main to the change in government subsidies and a perceived saturation of the marketplace.  Nevertheless, these are well established and strong industries, and although new development has slowed, the existing wind and solar farms still require staffing and optimising to their full capacity.

This is reflected in a major shift in job opportunities which we have seen across onshore wind and solar.  There has been a move from EPC and development recruitment to asset management and O&M (operations and management).  Allen & York said: “Optimisation of assets is paramount to achieving maximum output from existing developments, and as a result we have seen a steady demand for analysts and asset managers, site managers and technicians to enable the smooth and consistent output of power from these sites.”

Offshore wind has also undergone a period of reduced recruitment activity throughout last year, however the report anticipates an upturn in 2017/18 as the R3 developments across the UK coast come on-line. There are four offshore wind farms currently under construction, and a significant extension to the Burbo Bank farm off the North-West coast is underway. 

Other developments in the UK market are: Energy from Waste (EfW), Anaerobic Digestion (AD), biomass and gasification.  This is a marketplace that has really boomed over the last 2 years.  The RHI has had a direct effect on this strong growth, as well as tighter waste to landfill restrictions. In addition, more small to medium sized bioenergy plants being built and as such the jobs market is growing.

The creation of smaller power plants across the country has also created an increased demand within Transmission and Distribution (T&D), an already candidate-short market.  There is no shortage of opportunities for those skilled professionals working within grid connection and overhead line engineering.

Energy regulation jobs have also increased in the UK market over the last 2 years.  Understanding the regulation and policies within this very dynamic and ever changing sector, as well as managing investments and financial assets, has become a vital role within energy companies and consultancies. 

China continues to lead the world in renewable employment, with more than with 3.5 million people in the sector.  Last year, China contributed to more than a third of the global renewable energy capacity and as the country’s solar boom continues, we hope to see a reduction in the chronic air pollution caused by its long dependency on coal.

The report adds: “Exciting developments across US solar and wind has seen a 6% increase in renewable energy employment in 2016, reaching a total of 769,000 people working across the industry. According to figures published by the US Department of Energy (US DOE), the solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%.Driven by plummeting costs and growing consumer appetite, the renewable energy sector in the US looks set to thrive, despite their climate-sceptic President.”



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Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Wind power