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In 2013, about 834,000 people were employed in the wind power industry worldwide, an approximately 11% increase from 753,000 in 2012, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). However, employment opportunities in the sector saw a regional shift from developed to emerging countries.

In addition, IRENA's Renewable Energy and Jobs - Annual Review 2014 report reveals that the overall global renewable energy industry employed 6.5 million people last year, a rise from 5.7 million in 2012.

“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,” says IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

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The report says renewable energy employment was shaped by regional shifts, industry realignments, growing competition, and advances in technologies and manufacturing processes in 2013. The largest employers by country are China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Germany, Spain and Bangladesh, while the largest employers by sector are solar photovoltaic, biofuels, wind, modern biomass and biogas.

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In the wind industry, China and Canada provided positive impulses, while the outlook for the U.S. remains somewhat mixed because of political uncertainty regarding the production tax credit (PTC), the report says. The offshore wind industry is still concentrated in Europe, particularly the U.K. and Germany.

By region, the report says China accounted for 356,000 wind jobs in 2013, up from 267,000 in 2012. Last year, Germany employed 138,000 wind sector workers, followed by India (48,000), Brazil (32,000) and Spain (24,000). The report says the “Rest of EU” region employed 166,000 wind workers.

Notably, U.S. wind jobs dropped from 81,000 in 2012 to 51,000 last year. The report says that although the domestic content of turbines has risen from less than 25% prior to 2005 to 67% in 2012, the “stop-and-go nature” of the PTC has created periodic fluctuations in deployment and associated employment. Between 2011 and 2013, the report says U.S. wind manufacturing jobs declined from 30,000 to 17,400 jobs. However, the report suggests that a project pipeline in the country of 12 GW should help alleviate some of the employment concerns this year.

IRENA’s full report is available here.

Photo courtesy of Siemens


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