The global renewable energy industry employed more than 8.1 million people in 2015, an increase of 5% over the previous year, according to a report on Wednesday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Its previous yearly report showed a 18% jobs increase to 7.7 million people.
The continued growth in renewables jobs, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, is in contrast to trends across the broader energy sector, IRENA said. In addition to falling technology costs, renewables employment continued to be driven by favourable policies such as auctions in India and Brazil, tax credits in the US and policies in Asia.
On the other hand, job creation last year continued to be affected by increasing labour productivity and production overcapacities. This includes mechanisation in biofuel feedstock production in Brazil, greater automation by Chinese photovoltaic (PV) and wind manufacturers, and leftover stocks of PV panels.
The report also shows a continued shift of jobs towards Asia, with the continent's share in global employment increasing to 60% in 2015 from 51% in 2013.
China has the highest number of renewables jobs -- 3.5 million, a decline of 2% over the previous year. It is followed by Brazil, the US, India, Japan and Germany.
In the US, renewables employment increased by 6% in 2015 to 769,000 jobs. That was in contrast to an 18% drop in employment in oil and gas, according to the report. Renewables jobs growth was driven by rises of 22% and 21%, respectively in solar and wind employment.
In the EU, meanwhile, jobs declined for the fourth year. They were down 3% to 1.17 million in 2014, the last year for which data is available.
In terms of sectors, solar PV is the biggest employer, accounting for 2.8 million of global renewables jobs, an 11% increase over the previous report. Behind this increase there are rises in Japan and the US, stabilisation in China and a decline in the EU.
Wind employment grew 5% to 1.1 million jobs on the back of strong installations in China, the US and Germany.
Employment in liquid biofuels (1.7 million), solar heating and cooling, and large and small hydropower declined due to factors such as mechanisation, slowing housing markets, removal of subsidies and lower new installations, IRENA said.
The figure of 8.1 million jobs does not include an estimated 1.3 million direct jobs in large hydropower.
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