Decentralized renewables are pointing entrepreneurs to sustainable jobs, report
Power for All, the global campaign to end energy poverty, has released its second Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) jobs report; supported by GET.invest, Good Energies Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation.
The industry’s most comprehensive emerging markets employment census shows increased demand for DRE solutions is creating hundreds of thousands of formal and informal jobs.
The sector is becoming a major employment engine, especially in remote rural areas in emerging and developing economies where poverty and unemployment levels are high. In addition, it is helping achieve universal electricity access while supporting the world’s transition to clean energy.
In order to realize the full social and economic benefits of DRE, the report calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors to ensure the necessary human capital is in place.
Kristina Skierka, CEO, Power for All: “With DRE recovering from the impact of the pandemic faster than the broader economy its promise is clear, however significant challenges remain. Energy regulations need to be overhauled to accommodate renewables and other energy innovations, foreign investment encouraged, and structural issues like access to foreign capital and licensing restrictions resolved in order to grow DRE jobs and realize the sector’s full potential.”
According to the report, the DRE sector is a significant contributor to job creation in energy poor countries with the potential to create direct employment for up to half a million people in Africa by 2030. The sector showed great resilience in the face of COVID-19 with jobs returning in 2021 and now surpassing pre-pandemic levels in most of the study countries.
DRE–which includes pico-solar, appliances, solar home systems (SHS), commercial and industrial (C&I) standalone systems, and mini-grids–has an important role to play in accelerating United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (universal access to clean reliable and affordable energy) especially in remote rural communities, and efforts towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The sector has also been a source of ‘productive’ and ‘decent’ employment, especially in emerging economies where employment is a major focus of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 (inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all). The rapid recovery of jobs following the pandemic proves the sector’s resilience, indicating those jobs are likely immune to the worst recessionary pressures.
Suman Sureshbabu, Managing Director, Demand, Jobs and Livelihoods at the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP): "Access to energy transforms every facet of life and over the past decade, technologies have been rapidly replacing fossil fuels as the most cost-effective building blocks for powering economic development. The Powering Jobs Reports demonstrates the green job creation potential of the vibrant DRE sector, especially for entrepreneurship and small enterprise development."
Power for All’s “Powering Jobs Census 2022: The Energy Access Workforce” report provides a comprehensive overview of employment in the DRE sector, including skill levels, training opportunities, compensation, participation of women and youth, and job retention. It is based on a survey of more than 350 companies and focus groups across five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. The survey collected employment and sales data from 2019 to 2021 as well as projections for 2022-2023.
The growth and resilience exhibited by DRE in this report strengthens the case for increased support from government and development partners, to not only achieve the elusive universal energy access, but to tap into its job creation potential to accelerate rural development and poverty reduction efforts. As the world continues its transition from fossil fuels into renewable energy an increasingly skilled workforce will be critical.