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Renewable power sector employs over one crore people globally; Solar leads the clean energy drive

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Updated: May 09, 2018, 12.18 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: With the countries across the globe gradually moving towards clean energy in sync with their goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change, jobs in the renewable energy sector globally crossed 10 million mark in 2017. All the countries together had created over half-a-million new jobs in the sector last year, a 5.3% increase from 2016.

Though most of the countries are making efforts to move towards low-carbon economy, six of them - China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan - have constantly been on clean energy path with representing more than 70% of jobs globally in the renewable sector.

The findings are part of the report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) - a global inter-governmental organisation - which on Tuesday released its annual review on jobs in renewable energy (RE) sector in Abu Dhabi.

The figures show that the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry remains the largest employer of all RE technologies, accounting for close to 3.4 million jobs worldwide including 2.2 million jobs in China and 1,64,000 jobs in India.

Biofuels, hydro-power (both small and large) and wind are the other three segments in the RE sector which employ maximum number of people across the globe. With China and India moving fast towards solar and wind, 60% of all renewable energy jobs are in Asia.

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“The data also underscores an increasingly regionalised picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident,” said Adnan Z Amin, director-general of the IRENA while underlining how de-carbonisation of the global energy system can create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050.

The figures show that despite a slight dip in Japan and the US, the two countries followed China as the largest markets for solar PV employment in the world. India and Bangladesh complete a top five that accounts for around 90% of global solar PV jobs.

India has set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable power by 2022. This includes 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydro power. India’s cumulative solar installations stand at 19.6 GW as on December, 2017. The country had added record 9.6 GW of solar power last year - over 10% of what all the countries together installed (94GW) in 2017.

According to Mercom Communications India, Karnataka and Telangana had installed the highest amounts of utility-scale solar capacity, adding roughly 2.1 GW each, in 2017. Together, they accounted for approximately 50% of the total capacity added in India last year. Andhra Pradesh was ranked third with 1,225 MW of solar installed.

The Mercom report found that, in terms of cumulative installations, Telangana became the first Indian state to surpass the 3 GW mark in 2017.

India’s solar power installation growth is, however, being largely driven by imported modules. The IRENA’s annual review noted that the manufacturing of solar PV modules is limited in the country, given the availability of inexpensive imports, mostly from China.

“The market share of domestic firms decreased from 13% in 2014-15 to 7% in 2017-18. As of September 2017, the average price for imported modules was USD 0.39 per Watt compared with USD 1.44 per Watt for domestic products and a large share of the existing manufacturing capacity stands idle”, said the IRENA’s review report.

As far as jobs in the wind industry is concerned, the report noted that the jobs in this segment was contracted slightly last year to 1.15 million worldwide. “While wind jobs are found in a relatively small number of countries, the degree of concentration is lower than in the solar PV sector,” it said.

According to the report, China accounts for 44% of global wind employment, followed by Europe and North America with 30 and 10%, respectively. Half of the top ten countries with the largest installed capacity of wind power in the world are European.
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