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Renewable energy sector is key to SA job creation

The announcement by the World Bank at the recent G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting that 600 million jobs will need to be created by 2030 in order to support the expanding global population is cause for major concern.
This is according to Arthur Chien, VP of Talesun Energy, who says that this statement calls for immediate action, especially in South Africa, which currently has an unemployment rate of 25.5%. Chien believes that South Africa's renewable energy sector may be the solution to job creation in the country, as he foresees that the need for renewable energy will increase substantially in the near future, thereby creating vast job opportunities.

He said that the green energy trend in South Africa is here to stay, and as the country looks to move away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy to more viable, economical, long-term, reliable sources, renewable energy such as Photovoltaic (PV) solar and hydro energy will offer the best solutions. "South Africa has the potential to create many of jobs within the renewable energy sector. Most clean energy industries are also more labour intensive than carbon-intensive ones, so the potential for job creation is huge.

"Green growth in particular bears a huge value chain, which spans from energy vendors and construction, installation maintenance and project developers to sales, marketing, financial and insurance professionals, thereby creating many potential employment possibilities." He said that the solar industry has already started to create jobs in the country. "Take the Droogfontein solar power station in Kimberly for example, which created over 500 jobs in the local community. As the solar industry grows, so will the number of employment opportunities."

Eight thousand jobs created

Further to this, Chien points to South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPP), which is already making positive strides. "Eight thousand jobs have been created as a result of the REIPPP and a further 18,228 people are said to be permanently employed once other projects are underway. This is testament that renewable energy is able to contribute substantially towards job creation and the country's economic development."

Chien said that other nations around the globe that are leading the way when it comes to renewable energy production, and that these statistics highlight how the boom in renewable energy has benefited job creation in other regions. "The recently released International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed that the PV sector alone created approximately 6.5 million jobs worldwide in 2013, and by 2030 employment for all renewable energy technologies combined is projected to rise to approximately 16.7 million around the world."

He pointed to a market report published by European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EIPA), which reveals that globally, China experienced the largest solar boom in 2013, followed by the US and Japan. "China is a global leader in solar photovoltaic projects and accounted for approximately one-third of all large-scale solar PV capacity added in 2013. Under the draft of the Chinese Bureau of Energy's new proposal, new solar installations in China are forecasted to reach 12 GW in 2014. According to the IRENA report, the country has created around 2.6 million green jobs and, interestingly, the majority of these jobs are within the solar sector."

Further to this, he said that the solar energy sector in the US has also flourished, with more than 480,000 solar systems installations since the beginning of 2014, with the sector creating jobs for over 140,000 people in 2013 alone.

"In order for the South African economy to be at a level playing field with other renewable energy-rich nations, the country needs to work on key elements within the sector, such as the development and implementation of sustainable energy technologies, infrastructure development, efficient planning, and strategies that will encourage communities and entrepreneurs to implement their own energy initiatives," he concluded.

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