Renewable Energy and Jobs – IRENA Annual Review 2017

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015.

Jobs in renewables excluding large hydropower increased by 2.8%, to reach 8.3 million in 2016. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs. The shift to Asia continued, with 62% of the global total located in the continent.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) power was the largest employer, with 3.1 million jobs, up 12% from 2015. The growth came mainly from China, the United States and India, whereas jobs decreased for the first time in Japan, and continued to decline in the European Union. New wind power installations in the United States, Germany, India and Brazil, meanwhile, contributed to the increase in global wind employment by 7%, to reach 1.2 million jobs.

Liquid biofuels (1.7 million jobs), solid biomass (0.7 million) and biogas (0.3 million) were also major employers, with jobs concentrated in feedstock supply.  Brazil, China, the United States and India were key bioenergy job   markets.

Jobs in solar heating and cooling declined 12% to 0.8 million amid an installation slowdown in major markets such as China, Brazil and the European Union.

Large hydropower employed 1.5 million people (direct jobs), with around 60% of those in operation and maintenance. Key job markets were China, India, Brazil, the Russian Federation and Viet Nam.

In addition to the annual update on jobs in the sector, the report includes findings from a workplace survey in the Middle East and North Africa on barriers to women in clean energy labour markets. Although gender discrimination seems less pronounced in renewable energy employment than in the energy sector at large, challenges remain for women in regard to employment and promotion. IRENA conducted the survey with the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Download the full report here

Global Solar Power Demand Grows Nearly 50% in 2016, Europe Drops By 20%

Asia and America are quickly embracing low-cost and clean solar power, while the European Union needs to adapt its policy frameworks to get ready for the next solar growth wave 

Brussels, 3 February 2017 – European countries installed around 6.9 GW of solar power systems in 2016 – a 20% decrease compared to the 8.6 GW that was grid-connected in 2015, according to SolarPower Europe, the association of the solar power sector in Europe. In the same period, the global on-grid solar power market grew by about 49% to around 76.1 GW in 2016, from about 51.2 GW in 2015.

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, stated, «Once a solar leader, the European Union is in danger of being eclipsed by Asian powerhouses, such as China, in both solar power production and installations. Even the US, with a much smaller population than the EU’s 28 member countries combined, added about twice as much solar power capacities in 2016.»

The world’s largest solar market in 2016 was China, which officially added 34.2 GW, over 125% more than in 2015. It was followed by the US with estimated solar power additions of 14 GW, up from 7.3 GW the year before. Japan was ranked third, reaching around 8.6 GW, ahead of India with 4.5 GW.

James Watson, CEO at SolarPower Europe stated, «2016 will be remembered as the year that the first solar power purchase agreements were signed at levels that have made solar the lowest-cost power in many regions of the world. With clean solar being cheaper than inflexible generation technologies in much of Europe today, there is the need to drive the next solar investment cycle so we can pursue the decarbonisation of the European power sector. This requires the right policy framework. The Clean Energy Package recently presented by the European Commission provides very concrete and actionable levers, though there is still room for improvement.»

SolarPower Europe asks the European Parliament and Member States to take into consideration the following 5 top priorities to unleash growth for cheap and clean solar power in Europe when negotiating the Clean Energy Package:

  • We need a strong and ambitious governance framework to steer investment in clean energy
  • We need to ensure that flexibility roadmaps are set-up in all countries, to facilitate the uptake of more variable renewables but also address the overcapacity issue in the power sector
  • We need to adjust market rules to make them fit for variable solar electricity and we need to create local flexibility markets to ensure that all the services provided by solar and storage are properly remunerated
  • We need best practices for the design of tenders to accompany further cost decreases while ensuing project realisation
  • We need a strong framework for self-generation and consumption to place consumers and communities at the center of the energy transition

Alexandre Roesch, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe says, «After having inspired so many regions in the world, Europe needs to find its own inspiration again and act as the leader of the energy transition. We need to build a major industrial project around solar and renewables. To start with, increasing the 2030 renewable energy target to at least 35% will send a strong signal that Europe is back in the solar business».

These solar market data are a first estimate from SolarPower Europe for 2016 solar power on-grid installations that are based on official data from government agencies whenever possible. If such information was not available from primary sources, SolarPower Europe has gathered data mostly through its members, comprising national solar associations and corporations, as well as with help from international association members of the Global Solar Council in America, Africa and Asia Pacific.

An update for the 2016 solar market numbers will be released in the SolarPower Europe Market Report 2016 during the SolarPower Summit on 7-8 March 2017 in Brussels. A 5-year solar demand forecast until 2021 will be published in SolarPower Europe’s ‘Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2016 – 2021’ with the support of the Global Solar Council, which will be launched at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich on 30 May 2017.



Member States’ Reject Solar Trade Duties in an Historic Day for EU Trade Policy

Brussels, 26 January 2017 – Today in a meeting of the EU Member States trade experts, the European Commission’s proposal to extend trade measures on solar panels and cells imported from China, Taiwan and Malaysia was defeated. More than half the Member States of the EU voted against extending the measures and instead for the first time in history the proposal of the Commission is subject to an appeal from the Member States. This process, whilst never used before, is likely to put increased pressure on DG Trade to change their position.

Oliver Schaefer, President of SolarPower Europe stated ‘We have been campaigning for the end of these trade measures for the last 18 months, and are pleased that the Member States have sent a strong rebuke to DG Trade for not taking account of the interests of the European solar industry. We hope that the Commission will now review their proposal and through the appeal process substantially revise their approach.’

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented ‘We must thank all the European solar associations, who took part in achieving this historic result. This decision of the Member States reminds DG Trade that they must be more considerate of the solar jobs and investments that they have threatened across the EU with a proposal to extend these measures.’

Kristina Thoring, Political Communications Advisor added ‘We will now work with the Member States to find a suitable compromise to remove the measures as soon as possible, so that we can have a dynamic and growing solar sector in Europe once again.’

The European Commission must now consider what changes they need to make to their proposal before facing another vote by the Member States in a couple of weeks.

The PV Market Alliance (PVMA) estimates global PV installations at 75 GW in 2016

The PV Market Alliance (PVMA) estimates global photovoltaic (PV) installations at 75 GW in 2016 and possibly a stable market in 2017

After 50 GW of PV installations in 2015, the global PV market reached 75 GW in 2016, a 50% YoY growth, with now a total capacity installed globally crossing the 300 GW mark.

  • China, leading the PV market since 2013, installed in 2016 an absolute world record of 34 GW, representing an increase of 126% YoY and 45% of total global deployment. Given China’s total installed capacity of 77 GW, PVMA estimates that China will have exceeded the 100 GW mark by the end of 2017, if not even earlier.
  • Japan has installed about 8.6 GW of PV in 2016, down 10.8 GW in 2015. 2017 might show a further decrease but the market is expected to reach 7.5 to 8.5 GW, due to current project pipelines.
  • The US market experienced major growth with installations possibly reaching 13 GW, however PVMA anticipates significant uncertainties for the coming years.
  • Europe installed around 6.5 GW, driven primarily by the UK market, Germany, Turkey and France. A relatively low deployment has pushed Europe’s global PV market share to below 10%.
  • India experienced significant growth with 5 GW installed in 2016, up from 2 GW in 2015 and is expected to add up to 8 to 9 GW in 2017.
  • As anticipated, several emerging markets on all continents started to contribute significantly to the global growth with at least 7 GW installed. Other American and Asian countries contributed significantly while the Middle-East and Africa start to deliver.
  • 2017 could become a challenging year with at least 65 GW installed in a pessimistic scenario (a market drop of 13%). Reasonably, a similar level of installations as in 2016 could be reached if established markets maintain a reasonable level of development. A declining or stable market is likely to cause that module prices will continue to remain under pressure with new production capacities coming online, thus increasing further the gap between supply and demand.

These numbers are DC numbers and refer to grid connected PV systems, not installations and not shipments of PV components which can deliver slightly different results.


400 European Companies Call for the End of Trade Measures on Solar Products

Brussels, 12 October 2016 – Today, over 400 European companies covering all EU Member States sent a letter to European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, asking her to end the trade measures in place since 2012 on Chinese solar modules and cells.
Jochen Hauff, Board Director of SolarPower Europe representing BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbH, one of the leaders of the initiative, stated ‘The volume of European companies opposed to the trade measures is staggering. Companies have signed from every EU Member State, from all segments of the value chain – including: steel, chemicals, engineering, developers, installers, power sales. European solar SMEs and large corporations are united in the belief that these trade duties must go, and now is the time for the Commission to act and remove them through the ongoing Expiry Review.’
Representing European manufacturing, Christian Westermeier, Board Director of SolarPower Europe, added ‘For European manufacturers in the solar value chain the measures have been ruinous and have led to the loss of thousands of jobs in manufacturing. The removal of these trade measures will stimulate growth in European manufacturing all along the solar value chain and support the process of regaining this lost European employment.’
Sebastian Berry, Board Director of SolarPower Europe, summed up the feeling of the European solar sector by saying ‘The trade measures have been in place for a long time, they have brought only decline to the European solar sector. As a leading European solar company we need the Commission to remove these measures to allow the sector to grow sustainably again. If Europe is serious about leading in renewables, then the solar sector must be allowed to grow again and the European Commission can support this with one easy action – removing the trade measures.’
The case represents the largest ever trade dispute between the EU and China and seriously impacts the possibility for Europe to reach its climate objectives. The Expiry Review into the trade duties placed on solar modules and cells originating in China is currently ongoing and due to be completed by March 2017.

Download letter


The Solar Industry of Europe calls for the End of Trade Measures on Chinese Solar Panels and Cells

Brussels, 5 July. Today 34 solar and renewable energy organisations sent a letter to Commissioner Malmstrom calling on the European Commission to end punitive trade measures on Chinese solar panels and cells. The organisations, representing over 1.3 million European jobs and more than 120,000 European companies, believe that the measures are having a negative impact on the solar sector in Europe.


James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, stated ‘This is an overwhelming show of support from organisations across the EU working in solar. The measures have been in place for more than 3 years without any real benefit to the European solar industry. We need a better, more specific approach to support module producers in Europe, trade measures are a blunt instrument harming more than 80% of solar manufacturing jobs and all downstream jobs in Europe today. The Commission needs to develop a new way forward for solar without trade duties and price mechanisms.’


The organisations represent 20 European Union Member States: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. This gives the support for removing the measures almost blanket coverage of the EU Member States.


The Commission must make a recommendation on the solar trade measures at the beginning of 2017, which is subject to approval from the Member States. Trade duties have been in place since 2013, alongside a minimum import price agreement.

Letting in the Light: How Solar Photovoltaics Will Revolutionize the Electricity System

Το μερίδιο των φωτοβολταϊκών στην παγκόσμια παραγωγή ηλεκτρικής ενέργειας μέχρι το 2030 θα μπορούσε να αυξηθεί στο 13%, αντί του 2% που είναι σήμερα, σύμφωνα με έκθεση του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού για τις ΑΠΕ (IRENA).

Στο πλαίσιο της διεθνούς κλαδικής έκθεσης Intersolar Europe, ο IRENA έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα την έκθεση “Letting in the Light: How Solar Photovoltaics Will Revolutionize the Electricity System”, όπου τονίζεται ότι η φωτοβολταϊκή βιομηχανία είναι έτοιμη για μαζική επέκταση, κυρίως λόγω της μείωσης κόστους.

Εκτιμάται ότι η φωτοβολταϊκή ισχύς μπορεί να φτάσει τα 1.760-2.500 GW ως το 2030, από τα 227 GW που είναι σήμερα.

«Σε πρόσφατες αναλύσεις που έκανε ο IRENA διαπιστώθηκε ότι η μείωση κόστους σε φωτοβολταϊκά και αιολικά θα συνεχιστεί και στο μέλλον, με περαιτέρω μειώσεις που θα αγγίξουν ως και το 59% ειδικά στα φωτοβολταϊκά μέσα στα επόμενα 10 χρόνια», δήλωσε ο Γενικός Διευθυντής του IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin.

Ο ίδιος συμπληρώνει ότι σε αυτή την έκθεση «διαπιστώνεται ότι οι μειώσεις κόστους στα φωτοβολταϊκά, σε συνδυασμό με άλλους παράγοντες, μπορούν να οδηγήσουν σε δραματική επέκταση της φωτοβολταϊκής ενέργειας σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο. Η μετάβαση σε ένα ηλεκτρικό σύστημα που βασίζεται στις ΑΠΕ είναι σε εξέλιξη, με τα φωτοβολταϊκά να διαδραματίζουν κεντρικό ρόλο».

Εστιάζοντας στην τεχνολογία, την οικονομία, τις εφαρμογές, τις υποδομές, την πολιτική και τις επιπτώσεις, η έκθεση παρέχει μια επισκόπηση της παγκόσμιας φωτοβολταϊκής βιομηχανίας και τις προοπτικές της για το μέλλον. Ειδικότερα επισημαίνονται τα εξής:

Ισχύς: Η φωτοβολταϊκή ισχύς είναι η πιο ευρέως διαδεδομένη πηγή ηλεκτρικής ενέργειας στον κόσμο. Αντιπροσώπευσε το 20% του συνόλου των νέων εγκαταστάσεων ηλεκτροπαραγωγής το 2015. Την τελευταία 5ετία, η ισχύς της έχει αυξηθεί από τα 40 GW στα 227 GW.

Κόστος: Το κόστος της φωτοβολταϊκής ενέργειας ανέρχεται στα 5-10 σέντς του δολαρίου ανά κιλοβατώρα (kWh) σε Ευρώπη, Κίνα, Ινδία, Ν. Αφρική και ΗΠΑ. Το 2015 σημειώθηκαν ρεκόρ χαμηλών τιμών σε Ην. Αραβικά Εμιράτα (5,84 σέντς/kWh), Περού (4,8 σέντς/kWh) και Μεξικό (4,8 σέντς/kWh). Τον περασμένο Μάιο σε δημοπρασία στο Ντουμπάι κατατέθηκε προσφορά για 3 σέντς την kWh.

Επενδύσεις: Τα φωτοβολταϊκά αντιπροσωπεύουν πλέον περισσότερο από το 50% του συνόλου των επενδύσεων στον κλάδο των ΑΠΕ. Το 2015, οι επενδύσεις παγκοσμίως έφθασαν τα 67 δισ. δολ. για φωτοβολταϊκά στέγης, τα 92 δισ. για φωτοβολταϊκά εξαιρετικά μεγάλης ισχύος, και τα 267 εκατ. για συστήματα εκτός δικτύου.

Θέσεις εργασίας: Ο κλάδος απασχολεί σήμερα συνολικά 2,8 εκατ. υπαλλήλους στο στάδιο της κατασκευής, εγκατάστασης και συντήρησης ενός φωτοβολταϊκού.

Περιβάλλον: Η παραγωγή φωτοβολταϊκής ενέργειας έχει οδηγήσει σε μείωση του CO2 ως και 300 εκατ. τόνους το χρόνο. Το νούμερο αυτό μπορεί να φτάσει και τους 3 γιγατόνους ετησίως ως το 2030.

Κατά τον Amin «η παγκόσμια ενεργειακή ζήτηση αναμένεται να αυξηθεί άνω του 50% ως το 2030, κυρίως σε αναπτυσσόμενες και αναδυόμενες οικονομίες. Για να καλυφθεί η ζήτηση αυτή οι κυβερνήσεις πρέπει να εφαρμόσουν πολιτικές που θα επιτρέψουν στα φωτοβολταϊκά να αναπτυχθούν πλήρως».

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BNEF NEW ENERGY OUTLOOK 2016 – Powering a changing world

Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.

8 eye-catching findings from this year’s report

  1. Coal and gas prices stay low. A projected supply glut for both commodities cuts the cost of generating power by burning coal or gas, but will not derail the advance of renewables.
  2. Wind and solar costs drop. These two technologies become the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world in the 2030s. Onshore wind costs fall by 41% and solar PV costs fall by 60% by 2040.
  3. Asia-Pacific leads in investment, representing 50% of all new investment worldwide. Despite slower growth in the near-term, China remains the most important center of activity.
  4. Electric car boom. EVs increase global electricity demand by 8% – reflecting BNEF’s forecast that they will represent 35% of new light-duty vehicle sales in 2040, some 90 times the 2015 figure.
  5. Cheap batteries everywhere. The rise of EVs further squashes the cost of lithium-ion batteries, boosting power storage and working with other flexible capacity to help balance renewables.
  6. A limited ‘transition fuel’ role for gas outside of the US, with only 3% growth in gas demand for power to 2040, and generation peaking in 2027.
  7. Coal’s diverging trajectories. Coal generation plummets in Europe and peaks in 2020 in the US and in 2025 in China; however it increases 7% globally due to rapid growth in other Asian and African emerging markets.
  8. 2C scenario. An extra $5.3tn investment in zero-carbon power is needed by 2040 to prevent power-sector emissions rising above the IPCC’s ‘safe’ limit of 450 parts per million.

Read the Executive Summary of the BNEF report here.

Τα φωτοβολταϊκά ο μεγαλύτερος εργοδότης διεθνώς στο χώρο των ΑΠΕ

8,1 εκατομμύρια εργαζόμενους απασχολούσαν οι ΑΠΕ στα τέλη του 2015, σύμφωνα με την IRENA (το διεθνή οργανισμό για τις ΑΠΕ). Από αυτούς, 2,8 εκατομμύρια απασχολούσε η βιομηχανία φωτοβολταϊκών, καθιστώντας την ηλιακή ενέργεια για ακόμη μία χρονιά πρωταθλητή στην απασχόληση.

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The effects of solar farms on local biodiversity

Very little research has been carried out on the impacts of solar farms on biodiversity, despite the proliferation of this industry within the UK.
This study investigates whether solar farms can lead to greater ecological diversity when compared with equivalent undeveloped sites. The research focussed on four key indicators; botany (both grasses and broadleaved plants), invertebrates (specifically butterflies and bumblebees), birds (including notable species and ground nesting birds) and bats, assessing both species diversity and abundance in each case.
A total of 11 solar farms were identified across the southern UK for inclusion in this study. All sites had been completed for at least one growing season. Approaches to land management varied from primarily livestock grazing through to primarily wildlife-focused management. At each site the level of management for wildlife was assessed as low, medium or high based upon activities such as re-seeding, grazing or mowing regimes, use of herbicides and management of hedgerows and field margins.
To assess changes in biodiversity relating to the solar farm, we compared wildlife in the solar farm to wildlife at a “control” plot nearby. The control plot was outside the solar array, but within the same farm. Most importantly, the control plot was under the same management as the solar farm was prior to its construction. The purpose of the control plot was to give an indication of wildlife levels before the solar farm was constructed.
Botanical, invertebrate, bird and bat surveys were then carried out during 2015 on both the solar plot and the adjacent matched control plot. The results of these surveys were compared statistically to identify any changes in biodiversity the solar farm, and its land management, had brought about.
The results of the botanical surveys revealed that over all, solar farms had greater diversity than control plots, and this was especially the case for broadleaved plants. This greater diversity was partly the result of re-seeding of solar farms: where species-rich wild flower mixes had been sown this diversity was greater, but even where agricultural grass mixes had been used diversity was greater as compared to the largely arable control plots.
Management of grassland also influenced botanical diversity. At sites with conservation grazing (winter and spring sheep grazing with a pause through the summer for wild flowers to flower and set seed), plant diversity had increased through natural processes as compared to the original seed mix.
The invertebrate surveys revealed that butterflies and bumblebees were in greater abundance on solar farms than on control plots, and the greatest numbers occurred where botanical diversity was also high. The number of species did not differ significantly between most solar farms and control plots. However, at several sites with higher botanical diversity, and where management for wildlife was considered to be ‘high’, a greater diversity of bumblebee and butterfly species was observed.
The bird surveys revealed that over all, a greater diversity of birds was found within solar plots when compared with control plots. On two of the sites, a greater abundance of birds was observed on the solar farms when compared with control plots. The greater abundance and species of birds on these sites suggests foraging opportunities within the solar farms are greater than on the adjacent undeveloped sites.

Read the full report here