COVID-19 and Jobs

The pandemic-triggered lockdowns that have had a major impact on employment in many sectors of the economy. Within the energy sector, renewables jobs have been affected as well, but less so than fossil fuel jobs. Although the pace of new installations will be slower in 2020 than previously forecast, construction of large-scale utility projects will proceed, though with some delays.

Some job effects stem from temporary disruptions in the supply of pieces of equipment, components or raw materials, either because of factory shutdowns or border restrictions. Jobs appear less affected in operations of utility-scale wind and solar plants than in solar rooftop installation and off-grid solutions, where social distancing requirements and constrained household budgets have a significant impact.

The economic devastation following the pandemic leaves no doubt about the need for immediate benefits, which are essential to counteract large job losses and heightened uncertainties. An investment package tied to the energy transition can help to overcome the unprecedented economic slump and create numerous, much-needed jobs in the short-term. IRENA estimates that up to 5.49 million additional jobs could be created by 2023 including 2.46 million in renewables, 2.91 million in energy efficiency and 120 000 in grids and system flexibility, while conventional energy jobs would fall by 1.07 million.

Changes in energy sector jobs resulting from transition-related investment, 2021-2023