China employed almost half the world’s renewable energy workforce in 2021, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.
The world’s No2 economy provided 5.37 million jobs out of the world’s 12.7 million renewable jobs last year – more than the US, the EU, South America and Africa put together, the ILO’s Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2022 revealed.
“China’s success largely reflects infrastructure and industrial policies that built an integrated supply chain with large economies of scale,” said ILO Director Guy Ryder. “Low labour costs are also key.”
The rest of the world may have expanded their solar and wind sectors at a record rate in 2021, he said, but China still accounted for close to the majority of new installations.
China made the biggest ever annual addition to solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity last year, providing 63% of the sector’s jobs, dwarfing the second-placed US (7.7%) by more than seven times.
US Defence official Richard Kidd official said last month that America “cannot surrender” clean energy to China, saying Beijing will use it for geopolitical gain.
“We’re playing a range of war games now where energy and climate are factored in,” he said. “We will not be able to move energy around the battlefield the way we’ve been able to in the past.”
China holds a near monopoly of 96% of the world’s solar PV production, said the ILO report, due to its significant government support incentives.
Storming Ahead on Wind, Hydro
China also stepped up its offshore installations of wind energy by more than four times than the previous year and accounted for 80% of new jobs in hydropower, ILO said.
“The country’s offshore wind boom is drawing in growing numbers of Chinese and foreign companies,” said the study, “including firms with offshore oil and gas expertise and marine engineering enterprises.”
Renewable jobs have steadily risen from 7.3 million to 12.7 million over the last nine years, ILO said, and are likely to hit 38 million by 2030.
- By Alfie Habershon