How Many Jobs Are Available in the Renewable Energy Sector?

The Eco Experts

Current figures show there are at least 12.7 million renewable energy jobs

The fossil fuel industry still employs around 32 million people

The clean energy transition could generate around 13.3 million new jobs by 2030

Renewable energy is booming, offering plenty of career opportunities for people who want to make a difference.

As demand for clean energy increases and countries turn to sustainable power sources, professionals in this field have a huge role to play in pushing innovation and tackling climate change – and there’s so much potential for what’s to come.

In this article, we’re exploring the job market for renewable energy. Let’s take a look at the countries pushing the green revolution and how many jobs are up for grabs in the clean energy transition.

Two engineers in high vis jackets knelt down examining solar panels on a solar farm

How many jobs are there in the renewable energy sector?

According to the latest data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), there are at least 12.7 million jobs in the global renewable energy sector, covering areas such as solar, wind, nuclear, hydroelectric, and bioenergy.

Solar energy, in particular, has seen a noticeable bump in employment, with a threefold increase in jobs in this sector alone from 2012 – but more on those specific figures later.

How has this number grown over the past 20 years?

As people focus more on fighting climate change and using clean energy, the renewable energy sector has seen a surge in job opportunities over the past two decades.

IRENA started its annual review in 2012, and renewable energy employment worldwide has almost doubled since then, from an estimated 7.3 million jobs.

How many jobs are there in solar energy?

As briefly mentioned earlier, the solar energy sector has become a major contributor to job creation in the renewable energy industry.

In 2012, there were around 2.25 million jobs in solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing and installation. As of the latest data, this number now stands at 4.3 million, up from around 4 million in 2020.

As solar power becomes more popular, efficient and accessible, demand for skilled professionals in the field is going through the roof. From solar panel installers and technicians to engineers and project managers, the solar energy sector offers a wide range of employment opportunities.

How many jobs are there in hydroelectric and tidal energy?

Hot on the heels of the solar energy sector, employment opportunities in both hydroelectric and tidal energy have also doubled in the last nine years.

Despite the drought from severe weather in various European countries and the United States in 2021, hydropower jobs rose steadily from 2.18 million in 2020 to 2.37 million.

The official data says that at least two-thirds of these jobs are in manufacturing. Still, hydroelectric power plants and tidal energy projects need engineers, technicians, and operators to design, maintain, and operate the infrastructure.

How many jobs are there in wind energy?

Wind energy closely follows hydropower energy with 1.37 million jobs contributing to the overall employment in the renewable energy sector, up from 1.25 million in 2020. Like hydropower, the latest wind power jobs figure is double that of 2012.

Thanks to the rise of wind power, there are now heaps of jobs for skilled professionals in manufacturing, installation, research and development, and beyond. And this increased popularity is only set to grow – especially given one in two Brits would be happy to live next to an onshore wind farm, according to our National Home Energy Survey.

The development, construction, operation, and maintenance of wind farms require a diverse workforce, including engineers, technicians, project managers, environmental specialists, and more.

How many jobs are there in nuclear energy?

The nuclear energy sector has been a significant player in the global energy landscape since the 1950s.

But while global nuclear power plants are the second largest source of low-carbon power, generating 10% of the world’s energy, the number of jobs in this sector is relatively limited compared to other renewable energy sources.

In France, the nuclear energy sector employs around 200,000 skilled workers, while the US and UK employ around 100,000 and 64,500, respectively. These jobs cover a wide range of roles, including nuclear engineers, technicians, scientists and regulatory professionals.

Despite the smaller job market, the nuclear energy sector remains an essential component of the overall energy mix, providing reliable and low-carbon electricity to many nations.

Two engineers in high vis jackets examining plans of a wind turbine farm with turbines in the background

Which countries offer the most jobs in renewable energy?

For the most opportunities in the renewable energy sector, the latest data shows China taking the lead by a considerable margin.

With a staggering 5.37 million individuals employed in renewable energy, China boasts a robust job market that’s a testament to its commitment towards sustainable power sources.

Brazil, renowned for its extensive hydropower reserves and flourishing bioenergy sector, follows closely with approximately 1.27 million jobs.

The European Union (EU) ranks third as an aggregate region with 1.24 million jobs, benefiting from ambitious renewable energy targets and supportive policies that foster renewable energy job growth across member states.

How many jobs are there in the coal, gas and oil sectors?

It’s noteworthy to mention that the combined coal, gas, and oil sectors, despite the global shift towards cleaner energy sources, still employ a substantial 32 million skilled workers.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights this figure, while also noting that some companies are retraining employees to move into low-carbon areas so they can keep their skilled workers and move them around as needed.

However, as this isn’t always possible, policymakers are focusing on making sure there’s a just transition for workers in regions that rely on fossil fuels.

How has this number changed over the past 20 years?

The coal, gas, and oil sectors have traditionally been major global employers. However, as the world moves towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, new opportunities in these sectors are gradually being phased out.

Naturally, this transition is resulting in fewer employment opportunities within the coal, gas, and oil industries. However, the move to renewable energy will end up generating new job opportunities in solar, wind, and hydropower.

How many extra jobs would the clean energy transition create?

The transition to clean energy has the potential to create a lot of new jobs, potentially even more than we’re losing from coal, gas, and oil.

According to IRENA, the renewable energy sector has the potential to generate up to a whopping 42 million jobs worldwide by 2050, which shows a bright future for job growth in clean energy.

IEA’s World Energy Outlook (2021) also suggests that the clean energy transition will generate around 13.3 million new jobs by 2030, far outweighing the expected 2.7 million decline in traditional fossil fuel employment.


It’s an exciting time to join the renewable energy sector – especially in solar energy, which shows the most growth followed by hydropower and wind.

As the world continues to move towards a clean energy transition for environmental benefits, the renewable energy sector offers a fantastic opportunity for job creation and sustainable economic growth around the world.


Recent data shows that the oil, coal, and gas sectors employ around 32 million skilled workers.

However, the latest figures for jobs in the renewable energy sectors, such as solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear, highlight that there are around 12.7 million people employed in these sectors.

According to the IEA, the energy industry employs 65 million people around the world and accounts for 2% of global employment.

With various sectors in fossil fuels and renewable energy, the industry offers diverse job opportunities – though the clean energy transition means some sectors are shrinking, while others are growing.

The renewable energy sector in the UK employs around 247,400 people, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Most of these jobs are in construction.

The current figure is a 16.4% increase from the previous year’s count of 212,600 jobs.

Written by:
Since 2020, Melody has been immersed in writing about sustainability, ESG and climate action, drawing on her operational background in financial services and green investing. Her words have found homes in corporate publications scattered across the industry and, as a certified law geek, she's keen on dissecting the role of corporate accountability in climate action.
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