Solar job market in Europe to rebound from 2018

08.11.2017
Direct and indirect jobs, up- and downstream, supported by the PV industry in EU 28. (Graphic: Solar Power Europe)
Direct and indirect jobs, up- and downstream, supported by the PV industry in EU 28. (Graphic: Solar Power Europe)

The solar PV industry will create 94,000 new jobs in Europe between 2016 and 2021, says an EY report commissioned from industry association SolarPower Europe. At the beginning of the next decade, the sector will employ 174,700 full-time equivalents, a growth of 145% from 81,000 in 2016 but still a lower amount than 250,000 in 2008.

The European solar market progressed rapidly between 2008 and 2011, but later cooled off because of regulatory changes in several countries. As a result, “the socio-economic contribution of the PV industry in 2016 has fallen in most European countries”, says the report. Only the UK and France and some other countries with a small PV installed capacity have seen an increase in supported jobs in this period.

An overall recovery for the sector is now forecast from 2018, as more EU countries aim to increase the portion of renewables in their energy supply. Germany, Italy and the UK will remain the biggest job markets, while the largest growth in employment will occur in Spain (471%), Greece (403%) and Poland (381%). France will continue the trend of increasing installed capacity. But the situation in the UK, a market that has grown exponentially since 2011, is more due to reduced state support and uncertainties related to Brexit.

Germany is the leading solar job market

Germany will also remain a leading player in the coming years. “Germany is the top solar market in the EU with 23,000 jobs today. This can increase to nearly 32,000 in 2019 if we remove the EU trade measures currently in place on solar panels and cells,” SolarPower Europe CEO James Watson told SUN & WIND ENERGY.

Christian Westermeier, President of the association said at the report launch: "We need to remove all barriers to solar starting with withdrawing the trade measures currently in place on solar panels and cells accompanied by a predictable regulatory environment for PV in Europe. EY found that the average PV system price in Europe has decreased by 23% in 2016, compared to 2014, but we know that the price could be even lower if we ended the artificially high tariffs on solar products, which would boost jobs and economic activity in the countries of the EU." The report estimates that removing anti-dumping measures on solar PV would increase the number of jobs by 45,500 across the European Union.

As the EU renewable energy directive is under revision, the study shows that an increase of the European Union 2030 renewable energy target from 27% to 35% will also result in more than 120,000 new solar jobs.

Historically, ground-mounted solar has created more employment than rooftop systems. The trend, however, has reversed and now rooftops support the majority of jobs. In Germany, the installed capacity for rooftop systems is almost 3 times bigger than for ground-mounted solar (74%). In Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland, rooftop installations have the largest market share, while the opposite is true in the UK, Spain and Romania.

Claudia Delpero

In the table above, the shares of jobs supported and GVO for different steps in the value chain are outlindes per year. (Source: Solar Power Europe)

 

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