Renewable energies have destroyed jobs in Europe

THE ECO SCAN – Contrary to popular belief, photovoltaics, biofuels or wind turbines do not necessarily reduce unemployment. Le Figaro takes stock of renewable energy employment in five questions.

• How many people work in the renewable energy sector?

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), 7.7 million people worked in the sector in 2014, outside of large hydroelectric plants. The latter alone would employ 1.5 million people. Totaling 9.2 million employees for the entire renewable energy sector.

• Do renewable energies create jobs?

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of people employed in the sector increased by 18% worldwide. Corn the sector is not experiencing a similar boom in all countries. If China has seen the number of employees in the sector increase by 4%, the European Union has experienced a decline of 4%, in particular due to the fall in investment. Nevertheless, the global balance sheet is positive, with 1.2 million jobs created, and the sector is doing well despite the economic crisis. Which is rather an encouraging sign for the years to come.

• Which energies are the most important employers?

Photovoltaic solar energy remains the main source of jobs, with nearly 2.5 million employees. Global production continues to grow, especially in Asian countries, attracted by lower installation costs. Behind, biofuels (and in particular biodiesel) and wind energy complete the podium, with respectively more than 1.7 and 1 million employees.

• Which countries employ the most in the sector?

China remains the undisputed leader in the field of renewable energies. A polluter often pointed out, the country is paradoxically one of the main constructor of renewable energy infrastructure, which explains the 3.4 million employees in the sector. Almost 80% of people working in the photovoltaic branch are thus attached to the manufacturing industry.

In Europe, Germany holds the rope with more than 370,000 employees… all the same more than ten times less than China! After ten years of growth, the renewable energy sector has suffered a decline in employment across the Rhine, even though the country maintains its status as the main European producer in this area.

• Is France late?

France remains far behind world leaders but also its main European competitor, Germany, with half the number of employees in the sector. The photovoltaic sector has experienced an unprecedented decline, destroying 14,000 jobs, due to the fall in new installations (-45%). France is betting above all on biomass – the main employer, with 52,000 jobs, heat pumps and biofuels, energies in which it is the leader in Europe, ahead of Germany.