First published in M&G Thought Leader

As a company that has operated in this sector since 1997, we know the capacity that renewable energy has to create much needed employment — the continuing need for which is clearly evidenced in the latest Stats SA report: “… the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.1 of a percentage point from 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 32.6% in the first quarter of 2021 — the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008”.

As more and more countries around the world have started to manufacture, trade in and install renewable energy technologies, employment has proven to increase. The leader in is the solar photo-voltaic (PV) industry, representing a third of the total global renewable energy workforce, with PV employment having also expanded in India, Southeast Asia and Brazil in 2018. According to the International Renewable Agency’s (IRENA’s) Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review Report of 2019, it is hydropower that holds the largest installed capacity of all renewables, directly employing 2.1-million people worldwide.

Closer to home, it is estimated that direct off-grid solar employment in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the full-time equivalent of 372 000 jobs. Of these jobs, 56% are in rural areas and 27% are filled by women. Distributed renewables for energy access (DREA) systems have now become an effective and established solution for providing energy access, with about 150-million people around the world having benefited from the DREA in 2019.

Over and above the obvious employment opportunities it holds, it is clear that renewable energy is playing an increasingly vital role when it comes to improving access to energy (with the resulting positive social and economic ripple effects).

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