3.52 million jobs worldwide in bioenergy in 2020, reports IRENA
Figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed that the renewable energy sector employed 12 million people, directly and indirectly, in 2020. This number has continued to grow globally, the solar photovoltaic, bioenergy, hydropower and wind power being the biggest employers.
In 2020, bioenergy employed some 3.5 million people in biomass, biogas and biofuels. Globally, there were 765,000 jobs in the solid biomass sector, including 188,000 in China, 58,000 in India, 44,500 in the US, 368,000 in the EU). In terms of jobs in biogas, there were 339,000 employees in the sector in 2020, including 145,000 in China, 85,000 in India and 76,000 in the EU.
European countries have hosted a combined total of 1.6 million renewable energy jobs, of which around 1.3 million are in EU member states. The bioenergy sector is the continent’s largest employer. Solid biomass (for heating and electricity) leads the way with around 414,000 jobs (including 368,000 in the EU) and 79,000 jobs in biogas (76,000 in the EU).
In Germany, the most recent government data available shows that renewable energy employment has continued to decline over a decade, from a peak of 416,800 jobs in 2011 to 299,700 in 2019. But the performance of the various industries diverged. Germany has seen strong changes in wind and solar, but bioenergy saw a slight decline of 2,200 jobs.
In the UK, renewables employed around 138,300 people before the 2019/20 pandemic, up 3% from 134,000 the previous year. Bioenergy employed 45,600 people, including about 13,200 for biomass production and nearly 16,000 for the use of biomass for electricity and heat.
Going forward, IRENA estimates that bioenergy will be the second largest contributor to renewable energy jobs until the 2050s, followed by wind and hydropower, in both scenarios (1.5oC and PES).
As part of its World Energy Outlook, IRENA sets out its forecasts for the future of renewable energy in two scenarios. The Planned Energy Scenario (PES) is the primary reference case for this study, providing a perspective on developments in the energy system based on current government energy plans and other planned goals and policies, including determined contributions to the energy system. national level under the Paris Agreement.
The 1.5oScenario C describes an energy transition trajectory aligned with 1.5oC the climate ambition, i.e. to limit the increase in the global average temperature by the end of the century to 1.5oC, compared to pre-industrial levels. It prioritizes readily available technological solutions, which can be scaled up at the pace needed for 1.5oC objective.
By 2050, bioenergy will employ 6 million people in PES and 14 million people in 1.5oscenario c, with wind power employing 3.4 million in the PES and 4.5 million in the 1.5ovs.