Cordant Focus

Category: Industry Sector Insights


EU Sustainable Energy Week "Powering the Future" (15th - 19th June Brussels)

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‘Sustainable Energy for All’
Energy is central to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts. It affects all aspects of development -- social, economic, and environmental -- including livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, population levels and education.

‘Developing countries need reliable access to modern energy if they are to achieve economic growth’
Currently 1.3 billion people worldwide live without electricity, which is more than 1 in 5 people around the globe. The availability to sources of clean, reliable and affordable energy has a profound impact on multiple aspects of human development; it relates not only to physical infrastructure (e.g. electricity grids), but also to energy affordability, reliability and commercial viability.

Access to modern energy services, whether from renewable or non-renewable sources, is closely correlated with measures of development, particularly for those countries at earlier development stages.

Renewable energy investment has been rising around the world and so far has created 6.5 million jobs.

Renewable energy technologies are essential contributors to sustainable energy as they generally contribute to world energy security, reducing dependence on fossil fuel resources, and providing opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases.

Increasing the share of energy from renewable sources can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution; insulate countries from fuel price volatility; and improve those countries’ balance of payments.

Interactions between sustainable development and renewable energies
The relationship between RE and sustainability can be viewed as a hierarchy of goals and constraints that involve both global and regional or local considerations.

Job creation is seen as one of the main benefits of investing in RE sources, key facts:

  • Globally, 6.5 million people are working directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector. (Global numbers are based on a wide range of studies but remain incomplete. The numbers are focused primarily on the years 2012 and 2013.)
  • Solar photovoltaic and wind power remain the most dynamic renewable energy technologies.
  • In 2013, the solar photovoltaic sector accounted for 2.3 million jobs, largely concentrated in China. The trends show an increase in Chinese installation jobs, while manufacturing jobs remain stable as growing demand is absorbing the oversupply of photovoltaic panels. 
  • Liquid biofuels, modern biomass and biogas are large employers (1.4 million, 0.8 million and 0.3 million) and jobs are mainly concentrated in feedstock production. 
  • Wind employment remains relatively stable at 0.8 million jobs. Policy changes in several countries have reduced installation jobs, while those in operations and maintenance have experienced some growth. 
  • Solar heating employed 0.5 million people, around 70% were in China.
  • In the European Union there were more than 1.2 million renewable energy jobs in 2012, the most recent year for which complete data is available for the region. Wind, solar PV, and solid biomass were the largest employers. Germany, France, Italy and Spain, together accounted for 60% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Germany remains the dominant force in Europe; the latest statistics from 2013 indicate that the country has 371,000 direct and indirect jobs in RE.
  • Brazil’s largest renewable energy industry is bio-energy (mainly bio-ethanol with close to 539,000 direct ethanol jobs and about 82,000 biodiesel jobs). Wind power is growing, but remains a distant second at an estimated 32,000 jobs.

Skill Shortages
Education and training are critical enablers for employment in this highly dynamic sector. Skill shortages are already creating bottlenecks for deployment in some countries.

Renewable energy occupations identified as difficult to fill, include:

Sector                        Occupation

Wind energy                Project developers; service technicians; data analysts; electrical, computer, mechanical and construction engineers

Solar energy                Photovoltaic and solar thermal system installers and maintainers; building inspectors

Hydropower                 Electrical, and operations and maintenance engineers; technicians; tradespersons; sustainability specialists

Geothermal                 Trainers; geothermal engineers

Bio-energy                  R&D and design engineers; service technician; trainers