Job creation is a significant outcome of the development and deployment of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) technologies. With the complicated dynamics related to job creation in RE and EE technologies, this paper considers direct, indirect as well as induced employment opportunities resulting from various sustainable energy sectors.
This paper explores the factors affecting job creation, existing techniques for establishing the job creation potentials, and the required skill sets in the sustainable energy sectors namely; solar PV power, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), wind power, waste-to-energy, and energy efficiency measures. In addition, it provides case studies showcasing the variation of job creation in Germany, Spain, the United States, and the Middle Eastern region.
Figure 1: This figure represents available jobs within various renewable energy sectors. The figure was prepared by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2015 IRENA Policy Day 9 June, 2015. Note that Solar Photovoltaic is the leading employer in the renewable energy sector.
For the RE sector, the study shows that available jobs and required skill sets heavily rely on the technology value chains of the specific industry. A further breakdown of the value chains allows for categorization of these jobs on account of their stability and permanency. On the other hand, jobs within the EE sector fall within educational awareness programs, energy efficient policies and regulations, and energy efficiency retrofitting which includes conducting energy audits and re-designing buildings to apply the necessary energy efficient measures.
The Input-Output matrix and Employment factor methods are considered in assessing the gross and net employment impacts of renewable energy deployment. The paper shows that employment factors vary widely based on the region studied, the size of the RE project, and the decomposition of the value chain. In this paper, employment potential is measured based on capacity installed, money invested or number of temporary and permanent jobs created per year.
The paper also provides a breakdown of skill types and levels required within the various sustainable energy sectors. Additionally, it outlines reasons for skill gaps within these RE sectors and provides recommendations on how to bridge such gaps. It observes that skill shortages or surpluses occur mainly due to poor coordination between RE development initiatives and skill providers such as educational institutions. Planning ahead within the RE and EE sectors to ensure better coordination is therefore, highly recommended.
As for the case studies, it is clear that the PV solar industry is at the forefront of job creation in the RE sector. This article shows the high growth potential of the solar PV industry and thus it’s greater opportunity for job creation. In the United States, energy efficiency strategies are predicted to create more than 4-billion job-years by 2030. Given the renewable energy targets and plans set forth by several countries in the Middle Eastern region, a lot of direct and indirect job opportunities are expected to be created in the coming years.
In analyzing the potential of job creation within the RE sectors, the article recognizes that indirect job losses resulting from phasing out fossil fuels, and the increasing electricity prices play a significant role in determining the actual net employment potential of the RE sector. On the other hand, this paper predicts the continued growth in job creation within the EE sector especially given the necessity for energy efficient measures to aid in curbing climate change.