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Europe and the Maghreb lag behind in renewable energy jobs




North Africa is struggling to create jobs in renewable energies despite developments, particularly in Morocco, as here in Ouarzazate (photo: F.Dubessy)
North Africa is struggling to create jobs in renewable energies despite developments, particularly in Morocco, as here in Ouarzazate (photo: F.Dubessy)

EUROPE / MAGHREB. The latest study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), carried out in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), highlights "the potential of an ambitious climate strategy in terms of jobs and calls for global policies in favour of a just transition". This study, published on Thursday 21 October 2021, reveals that in 2020 twelve million employees (compared to 11.5 million in 2019) were working in connection with renewable energies in the world.

"While solar and wind continued to dominate global renewable energy employment growth, accounting for a total of 4 million and 1.25 million jobs respectively, the liquid biofuels segment declined as demand for transport fuels fell. Off-grid solar lighting sales suffered, but companies managed to limit job losses," the survey said.

However, IRENA reveals that China accounts for 39% of these direct and indirect jobs (4.73 million employees) in renewable energy, followed by Brazil (1.2 million), India (726,000) and the United States (838,000). All together, the EU Member States only reach 1.3 million, mainly thanks to the solid biomass (368,000 jobs), wind (259,000), liquid biofuels (229,000) and solar photovoltaic (194,000) sectors. And again, the data includes the UK. Europe is in first place for offshore wind installations, almost exclusively thanks to installations in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The EU accounts for 21% of global employment in wind energy (China 44% and the Americas 17%).

Spain leads the way

Number of employees (in thousands) from 2012 to 2020 by renewable energy technology in the world (infographic: IRENA)
Number of employees (in thousands) from 2012 to 2020 by renewable energy technology in the world (infographic: IRENA)
The countries bordering the Mediterranean are seriously lagging behind. The only country in this region to do well is Spain, with a 17% increase in jobs in the sector in 2019 (95,100 employees compared to 81,300 in 2018). "The expansion was entirely driven by wind and solar photovoltaic", says IRENA. These two industries employed 28,600 and 21,400 employees respectively at the end of 2020, i.e. 53% of all Spanish jobs in the renewable sector. However, with 31,900 jobs, biomass still leads the field, even though this figure is falling year on year. According to the Spanish Renewable Energy Association (APPA), "the contribution of the renewable energy sector to GDP has increased by 19%, reaching €12.5 billion in 2019".
Madrid ranks first in Europe, behind Germany and ahead of Denmark, for exports of wind energy equipment (nacelles, hubs and blades). The EU accounts for 30-40% of the world market for turbine installation, stable over the last decade with around €8 billion per year in exports.

In 2021, the most sought-after professions in Spain in the renewable energy sector were project developers, design engineers specialising in high-voltage lines and substations, and sales staff.

In France, direct and indirect employment in wind energy is estimated at 20,200 at the end of 2019, an increase of 11%. The National Multiannual Programme 2023-2028 could increase them to 50,000.


The IRENA report shows that in the whole of North Africa, only 23,000 people work in renewable energy.
On the other hand, in Turkey, Kalyon Solar Technologies' opening of a plant to manufacture components for photovoltaic power plants in Ankara will create 1,400 jobs there, as well as 100 in the associated research centre. In Jordan, some 5,000 people work in renewable energy, including more than 2,000 in photovoltaics, nearly 2,000 in wind power and 1,000 in solar thermal.

Read the full IRENA report "Renewables Energy and Jobs
 

Eric Apim


Tuesday, October 26th 2021



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