The renewable energy industry has added hundreds of thousands of jobs in one year despite the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing energy crisis, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRRENA) said in a new report.

The size of renewable energy employment stood at 12.7 million in 2021, with 700,000 new jobs added since 2020. The number is forecast to increase to 38.2 million by 2030 if the push for energy transition and investments will continue.

Across the energy industry, the number of jobs could rise to 139 million during the same period. This will include more than 74 million in energy efficiency, electric vehicles, power systems/flexibility and hydrogen.

Solar energy

So far, the most promising has been the solar energy sector, which accounted for the biggest number of employees at 4.3 million, while jobs in hydropower and biofuels reached 2.4 million each.

Renewable energy employment has expanded due to growing interest in renewables. Many markets are also looking to localise supply chains amid concerns over climate change and further supply chain disruptions, which have been highlighted during the pandemic.

"In the face of numerous challenges, renewable energy jobs remain resilient, and have been proven to be a reliable job creation engine," said Francesco La Camera, IRENA's director-general.

The bulk of the jobs in renewable energy are in Asia, with China alone accounting for 42% of the global total, followed by the EU and Brazil with 10 % each, and the US and India with 7% each.

"Beyond the numbers, there is a growing focus on the quality of jobs and the conditions of work in renewable energies, to ensure decent and productive employment," said Guy Ryder, ILO director-general.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)