Chinese solar jobs have increased five-fold since 2011. Australia, however, is shedding jobs.

15 May 2014 — The renewables sector employed 6.5 million people globally last year, according to a new International Renewable Energy Agency report, however government policy means Australia is bucking the global growth trend and shedding jobs.

The report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014, said there was strong growth in the renewables sector, with the industry expanding from 5.7 million employed in 2012 up to 6.5 million in 2013.

“With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche – it has become a significant employer worldwide,” IRENA director-general Adnan Amin said.

“The insights into shifts along segments of the value-chain revealed in the report are crucial to developing policy that strengthens job growth in this important sector of the economy.”

The majority of jobs were in solar photovoltaics, followed by liquid biofuels and wind energy.

The largest employer was, unsurprisingly, China, which has been massively expanding investment in renewables, particularly solar PV, which accounted for 1.6 million jobs, up from 2011 estimates of 0.3-0.5 million.

Australia meanwhile was heading backwards, with government cuts to renewables leading to massive layoffs.

“Australia’s solar PV employment grew from 1800 jobs in 2008 to an estimated 23,500 direct and indirect jobs in 2012. However following the removal of state and federal government incentives, the PV market declined 22 per cent in 2013, leading to the loss of 5800 jobs,” the report stated.

“A further retrenchment to 12,300 jobs is expected for 2014.”