Renewable Energy: linchpin for job creation AND decarbonisation

Renewable Energy: linchpin for job creation AND decarbonisation

According to a recent report jointly published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), global renewable energy employment in 2022 surged to 13.7 million, marking a noteworthy increase of one million from the previous year, and a significant rise from the 7.3 million recorded in 2012.

The report reveals that surging investments in renewable energy are consistently generating new employment opportunities across a widening spectrum of nations. Nevertheless, the bulk of these jobs remain concentrated in select regions, with China leading the way, contributing to 41 percent of the global total.

Other significant contributors include Brazil, European Union (EU) member countries, India, and the United States of America (USA). Collectively, these regions dominate the global landscape in terms of capacity installations, and are pivotal players in equipment manufacturing, engineering, and related services.

IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera, commented that “2022 was another outstanding year for renewable energy jobs, amid multiplying challenges. Creating many more millions of jobs will require a much faster pace of investments in energy transition technologies.

Earlier (this year) the G20 leaders agreed to accelerate efforts to triple global renewables capacity by 2030 aligned with our recommendations ahead of COP28. I call on all policy makers to use this momentum as an opportunity to adopt ambitious policies that drive the needed systemic change.”

Numerous nations are demonstrating a growing commitment to bolstering domestic supply chains and nurturing local job growth in renewables, helped by well-tailored industrial policies.


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China took the lead in effectively launching their comprehensive set of industrial policies. And more recently, the European Union, India, Japan, South Africa, and the United States introduced strategies to promote domestic manufacturing. Nevertheless, nations must combine their localisation efforts with ongoing international collaboration, as part of the ongoing global pursuit of an ambitious energy transition.

A striking example of the potential for job creation in the renewables arena is Ballymena based bus manufacturer Wrightbus, who have recently created several hundred new jobs to help it roll out its hydrogen and electric bus technology.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for the business which was bought out of administration only three years ago by green pioneer Jo Bamford.

The company now has a workforce of over 1,200 employees, a significant leap from the 56 individuals on the payroll when Bamford initially assumed control of the business.

With Wrightbus’s ongoing expansion, they are actively seeking skilled individuals to join their mission of developing greener and more sustainable transportation solutions worldwide.

Nicola McCloskey, HR Director at Wrightbus, says “There has never been a more exciting time to join this industry to begin or develop your career.”

However, there is a deficiency of hydrogen production in Northern Ireland, hindering the fulfilment of demand for hydrogen as a clean transportation fuel. And the absence of accessible, low-carbon hydrogen resources is expected to impede the growth of the hydrogen energy market in Northern Ireland until it is rectified.

Wrightbus is striving to tackle the lack of available hydrogen with the installation and operation of a multi-megawatt, low-carbon hydrogen production and distribution system at its Ballymena headquarters (plan pictured).

Wrightbus is striving to tackle this challenge with the installation and operation of a multi-megawatt, low-carbon hydrogen production and distribution system at its Ballymena headquarters.

The hub will have the capacity to meet the hydrogen requirements for over 250 buses, and is being designed with the flexibility to swiftly expand production in response to any additional demand for low-carbon hydrogen across Northern Ireland.

The electrolyser (the machine used to actually produce hydrogen by splitting water into its component parts) will be directly linked to a recently installed solar photovoltaic system adjacent to the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena.

Additionally, the hydrogen production system will be integrated with the electricity grid and supplemented with power from other renewable sources such as onshore wind. This diverse mix of renewable energy sources will guarantee dependable, year-round hydrogen production.


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This project holds significant prominence for Northern Ireland and strategic importance for the entire UK, serving as a catalyst for the expansion of zero-emission bus deployment. It will not only elevate Wrightbus’s visibility but also solidify its standing in the global hydrogen bus industry.

Consequently, the initiative will boost the emergence of fresh employment opportunities and economic prospects within Northern Ireland and beyond, whilst aligning with the UK Government’s objectives for accelerating domestic renewable hydrogen production capacity.

Wrightbus’s zero-emission buses have recently hit a milestone having prevented more than 10,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, and have travelled over 6 million miles since first entering service.

Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive of Wrightbus, said: “These incredible statistics underline the importance of the work we are doing here at Wrightbus. We have a long-stated ambition of reducing the environmental impact of public transport and driving a greener future. These milestones are more than just numbers, they represent significant improvements in the air quality and environment of the towns and cities where our buses operate.”

Renewable energy is undeniably the linchpin for decarbonising our economies and mitigating the dire impacts of climate change. The transition towards clean, sustainable energy sources not only reduces our carbon footprint but also serves as a powerful catalyst for the creation of green skilled jobs.

These jobs encompass a wide range of professions, from solar panel installation and wind turbine maintenance to research and development in the clean energy sector, all contributing to a burgeoning industry that not only bolsters economic growth but also helps safeguard our planet.

Embracing renewable energy is not just an environmental imperative; it’s an economic opportunity we cannot afford to overlook.

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