The Annual Review 2019 from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that hydropower has the largest installed capacity of all renewables, accounting for almost 50% of renewable energy in the world, but is now expanding slowly.
The sector employs 2.05 million people, directly, nearly three quarters of whom are in operations and maintenance.
Construction and installation represent 23% of the total. Manufacturing is characterized by lower labor intensity and contributes 5%. Employment in the hydro sector has grown from 1.66 million in 2012.
By country, India accounts for 17% of the total employment, followed by China at 15%, Brazil at 10%, Vietnam at 6%, Pakistan at 5%, the European Union and Russian Federation at 4% each, and Iran and the U.S. at 3% each.
IRENA points out that previous editions of this report provided separate employment estimates for small and large hydropower. However, this edition combines both as “differentiating between them is difficult because of the scarcity of data and for lack of a universally agreed threshold.”
With regard to trade and supply chain dynamics, the report says that for hydropower, China represented a quarter of global exports, while European firms commanded a 46% share and the U.S. and India contributed just under 5% each.
The report also covers tide, wave and ocean energy, with 1 million jobs in 2018.
IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bio-energy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy.