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Renewable energy employment hits new peak, and the best is yet to come

Coming off a record year for renewable energy in Australia, new figures show the industry is flourishing on the global stage as well.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than half a million jobs were created worldwide in the sector in 2017, taking the total number of people employed in renewables to more than 10 million for the first time.

Natalie Collard, the Clean Energy Council’s Executive General Manager - Industry Development, says the global statistics reinforce the unprecedented year the sector experienced Down Under in 2017.

“It is clear that the world is heading towards a clean energy future, and that creates a huge range of economic opportunities,” Ms Collard said.

“More than 50 projects in Australia are either actively under construction or have secured financial commitment, adding up to more than $10 billion of investment and almost 5500 new direct jobs across the country.

“The figures from IRENA show that more than 70 per cent of the global clean energy jobs are from just six countries – China, Brazil, the US, India, Germany and Japan – highlighting that we’ve really only scratched the surface when it comes to growth in renewable energy,” she said.

Clean energy technologies such as solar and wind power have experienced big cost reductions this decade as a result of the national 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET), to the point where they now offer cheaper power generation than new coal or gas.

The RET has been effective at encouraging greater competition between project developers to ensure we build the cheapest possible power generation – and the good news is that all these new low-cost renewable energy projects will reduce the average household power bills by hundreds of dollars over the next few years.

The question now is whether we can develop a bipartisan policy that will ensure these benefits will continue after the end of the decade. More about the jobs and investment created by large-scale renewables can be found on the Clean Energy Council website.