Approximately 6.5 million people were employed by the renewable energy industry globally by the end of 2013, according to new figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The data shows a steady rise in the number of people employed directly and indirectly in renewable energy – seeing a 14% increase on 2012 levels of 5.7 million employees.
The growth was the result of regional shifts in the renewables market, growing competition and advances in technology and manufacturing processes, according to the report.
IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said:
With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche, it has become a significant employer worldwide.
The report – Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014 – confirmed China’s position as the world’s largest renewable energy market with much of the new job creation coming from the country’s booming solar and wind sectors.
PV installations in China grew five-fold between 2011 and 2013, according to IRENA, reinforcing the country’s position as the world’s largest renewable energy employer, with an estimated 2.6 million jobs.
Brazil and the US are the next biggest renewable employment nations – with 0.89 million jobs and 0.63 million jobs respectively.
The European Union was also a frontrunner, responsible for 1.2 million jobs – with Germany and Spain especially big employers.
Meanwhile the largest employers by sector include solar photovoltaic, biofuels, wind, modern biomass and biogas.
The solar PV industry enjoyed a particularly strong year, according to the report, employing over 2.2 million people globally at the end of 2013.
IRENA says increasing installations and the rapidly falling price of solar PV panels as the main drivers behind the jobs rise.
Liquid biofuels was the next largest sector employing 1.4 million people, while the wind industry had over 800,000 employees in 2013.