This study estimates that current global employment in renewable energy is as high as 1.7 million, totalling the individual countries for which numbers are available.
UNEP observes that so far, it is mostly the advanced economies that have shown technological leadership in developing viable renewable energy but now developing countries have a growing role. China and Brazil account for a large share of the global total, having strong roles in solar thermal and biomass development. Many of their jobs are in installations,operations and maintenance, as well as in biofuel feedstocks. The outlook for the future is that developing countries could hope to generate substantial numbers of jobs, for example Kenya in solar technology.
To make sure that the renewables sector can provide large-scale green employment, a strong policy environment is essential. Some countries have already shown that renewable energy can form part of national competitive economic strategies. For instance, Germany views its investment in wind and solar PV as a crucial aspect of its export strategy. Their intention is to retain a major slice of the world market in coming years and decades. Most German jobs in these industries will depend on sales of wind turbines and solarpanels abroad. Currently, only a few countries possess the requisite scientific and manufacturing know-how, and the markets for wind and solar equipment are experiencing rapid growth.
Germany emerged as an early leader in the renewable energy industry,and hence reaped the rewards of some of the first jobs in the green power sector. The current European Union’s renewables goal is to reach20% of final energy consumption from renewables by 2020, and Germany’s federal government has adopted a target of 18% of their own consumption to be renewable by the year 2020. The German share of renewable energy has jumped from 3.8% in 2000 to 9.8% in 2007.
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety estimated gross employment in renewable energy for 2008, as a result of the various encouragement policies. They have found:
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