According to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the global renewable energy industry employed 7.7 million workers in 2014. This number is an increase of 18 percent from the year before.
It should be noted that the total of 7.7. million employees doesn't include the estimated 1.5 million jobs that come from large hydropower.
The IRENA report also revealed the solar photovoltaic sector is responsible for 2.5 million of those jobs, which is up from 2.3 million the year before. The next highest sector is liquid biofuels, with 1.8 million jobs. In third comes wind power, which just broke 1 million after having around 834,000 employees the year before.
While this is promising news for the renewable energy industry, overall, when looked at closely it reveals problems for select areas. For example, the data shows an increase in solar PV employment in China, but a 35 percent decline in Europe.
According to PV Magazine, Director General of IRENA Adnan Z. Amin, spoke on the international growth of renewable energy employment in a statement.
"We are seeing the widest spread of employment through renewable energy this year," he said. "Five of the 10 countries with the most renewable energy jobs are now located in Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Bangladesh."
Renewable energy employment in the U.S.
The IRENA report found solar employment surged 22 percent in 2014.
Amin added that the U.S. is quickly growing as a leader in the renewable energy industry with "a rapid rise in deployment of solar PV in particular." He also noted signs of strong investment in wind power in several states, given that jobs in the sector have increased by almost half, 43 percent, to a total of 73,000 employees within a year's time. Strides were also noted in biofuels.
It was also found in the IRENA report that employment of women in the U.S. solar industry is rising, jumping up from 26,700 to 37,500 in 2014.
Amin made sure to note that, for renewable energy employment to continue to follow this trend of growth, supportive policies should be used.
"In order to maximize job creation from renewable energy deployment, governments need to implement a mix of cross-sectoral policies that encourage deployment, stimulate investment in local industries, strengthen firm-level capabilities and promote education and research," Rabia Ferroukhi, IRENA deputy director, knowledge, policy and finance centre, emphasizes.