May 8 (UPI) — Though more workers globally are on the payroll in the renewable energy sector, the industry is concentrated in Asia, an annual report found.
The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that 60 percent of all renewable energy jobs are in the Asian economies. For the solar panel industry, China has about 60 percent of the payrolls, representing about 2.2 million employees. China also accounts for 44 percent of the payrolls in the wind energy industry.
Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou are co-hosts for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and a partnership with IRENA outlined a low-carbon road map that sees it draw 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.
Air quality concerns were raised for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where air quality has at times been below levels considered healthy by the World Health Organization. Beijing’s air pollution levels continue to raise public health concerns.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has put health at the forefront of government policy, however. The president has his signature on the Paris climate agreement and a regional assessment from consultant group Frost & Sullivan said it will be the Asian economies that lead the world in adopting clean energy technology.
Globally, the number of people employed in the renewable energy sector has reached 10.3 million, the first time ever that figure has been over 10 million. The sector added 500,000 new jobs last year, a 5.3 percent increase from the previous year. Solar power is the largest of all renewable energy industries, accounting for about 3.4 million jobs.
Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan and United States combine for 70 percent of all industry jobs. IRENA notes that most of all the manufacturing of renewable energy components takes place in only a handful of countries.
Adnan Amin, the director general of IRENA, said sector employment should only grow as more economies take the low-carbon route.
“Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonization of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050,” he said in a statement.
Critics complained U.S. President Donald Trump missed the mark with a 30 percent duty on imported solar products, though the domestic industry is generating some organic momentum despite the headwind. In other economies, Europe is among the leaders in wind.