Clean energy employment now represents over half of total energy sector jobs, having overtaken fossil fuels in 2021, according to a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report.
The second edition of the World Energy Employment report provides an analysis of the energy workforce, tracking its evolution from pre-pandemic times, through the global energy crisis, to the present day.
According to the report, global energy sector employment soared to 67 million in 2022, a 3.5 million increase from pre-pandemic levels. Clean energy technologies spearheaded this growth, with jobs in solar photovoltaic (PV), wind power, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries, heat pumps.
The expansion of clean energy industries is also generating upstream jobs in critical mineral mining, which added 180 000 jobs in the past three years, highlighting the growing importance of these essential elements in the new energy economy.
Solar PV emerged as the clear frontrunner in clean energy employment, generating 4 million jobs, while EVs and batteries demonstrated the fastest growth, adding well over 1 million jobs since 2019.
The up tick of clean energy jobs occurred in every region of the world, with China, home to the largest energy workforce today, accounting for the largest share of jobs added globally. But several regions also saw fossil fuel employment rise above 2019 levels, notably India, Indonesia, and the Middle East.
While the IEA acknowledges the positive trends, it also raises concerns about potential challenges associated with this transition. A skilled labour shortage, particularly in construction occupations related to clean energy infrastructure, threatens to hinder the expansion of clean energy projects. Additionally, the number of individuals pursuing degrees or certifications relevant to energy sector jobs is not keeping pace with the burgeoning demand.
“The unprecedented acceleration that we have seen in clean energy transitions is creating millions of new job opportunities all over the world – but these are not being filled quickly enough,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“Governments, industry and educational institutions need to put in place programmes to deliver the expertise needed in the energy sector to keep pace with growing demand, particularly to manufacture and build the clean energy projects necessary to meet our energy and climate goals.”
While the growth and demand for skilled labour is clear, the report also expresses concerns about the impact of this clean energy boom on workers currently employed in the fossil fuel industry.
To mitigate this impact, a “just transition” is essential, involving the reskilling and retraining of fossil fuel workers for new opportunities in the low-carbon energy sector. The report suggests policymakers prioritise job training and capacity building initiatives to ensure that the benefits of energy transitions are widely shared and that no worker is left behind.
The IEA’s report concludes that the energy sector is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by the growth of clean energy. While challenges remain, the transition to clean energy offers the potential for significant job creation and economic growth, positioning it as a key driver of future employment opportunities.
Elsewhere, in its most recent World Energy Outlook (WEO) report, the IEA also delved into the potential trajectories of the global energy transition under current government policies and commitments. The report concluded that “the pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 has narrowed since the initial version published in 2021, but it remains achievable.”
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?