Last week, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announced that renewable energy jobs had reached an estimated 7.7 million globally in 2014, with another 1.5 million estimated jobs in large-scale hydropower. The announcement revealed that the sector is growing at a rapid rate (up 18% from the previous year).
While IRENA’s report does not specifically mention Canada’s contribution, we should be proud of our own accomplishments. As Clean Energy Canada reported late last year, jobs in clean energy have outpaced jobs in the oil sands – an indicator that the tides are shifting in the fight against climate change. The report highlighted cities such as Guelph, ON and Yellowknife, NWT for their diverse and important contributions to cleaning the energy grid, and described how provinces across Canada are investing in RE.
Pembina Institute also sees value in quantifying our success in RE employment, and recently released British Columbia’s Clean Energy Economy Jobs map – this lets us not only see the number of jobs in RE across the province (over 14,000), but also provides a visual of the vast number of projects currently being developed, helping to clean the air and fight climate change. According to Pembina,
“Far from a “boutique” sector, renewable energy employs people in our biggest cities and our most remote communities, including many First Nations. While many of these jobs are located in the Lower Mainland, on a per capita basis the highest concentration of jobs are found in the Northeast — a region that typically struggles with a lack of diverse employment opportunities and boom-and-bust economic cycles.”
It’s not just local communities in British Columbia benefiting from the RE industry - the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program in Ontario allows participation in the renewable energy sector by co-operatives and municipalities, which has created new industries for both urban and rural Ontarians. Similarly, the Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) in Nova Scotia also enables local job creation by making renewable energy development lucrative and accessible.
Renewable energy is a great job provider because there are so many employment opportunities from the start of a project through its entire lifecycle, often decades. Manufacturers, engineers, and installers may physically put projects in the ground, but not without the support of sales and marketing staff, accountants, lawyers, public consultation specialists, and government officials responsible for approvals, followed by long-term management and operations. And of course this list is just scratching the surface.
With this kind of growth, and this level of enthusiasm for the sector, it seems we can look forward to continued growth of renewable energy jobs in Canada and the clean energy that comes with it.
Header image source: SolarShare on Facebook