IRENA: Liquid biofuels accounted for 2.5M jobs globally in 2019

By Erin Voegele | September 29, 2020

Jobs in the renewable energy sector reached 11.5 million globally in 2019, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on Sept. 29. Bioenergy accounted for 3.58 million jobs, up from 3.18 million in 2018.

According to the report, liquid biofuels accounted for 2.475 million jobs, while solid biomass accounted for 764,000, biogas accounted for 342,000 and municipal and industrial waste accounted for 39,000.

IRENA’s data shows global biofuels production increased 5 percent in 2019, principally driven by a 13 percent expansion of biodiesel. Ethanol production increased by 2 percent. Indonesia overtook the U.S. and Brazil to become the world’s largest biodiesel producer, the report noted.

The majority of the 2.475 million liquid biofuel jobs were in the agriculture sector. Processing of feedstock into fuel accounts for fewer jobs, although those jobs generally required higher technical skills and offer better pay.

Ten countries accounted for 90 percent of global biofuel jobs, led by Brazil at 34 percent, followed by Indonesia, the U.S., Columbia, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Poland, Romania and the Philippines.

In the U.S., total renewable energy jobs were estimated at 755,600 last year. Liquid biofuels accounted for approximately 297,000 of those renewable energy jobs.

The report cites data showing U.S. biodiesel output fell by approximately 7 percent in 2019 to about 6.5 billion liters (1.71 billion gallons). IRENA said its estimate suggests U.S. biodiesel jobs fell to approximately 67,300 in 2019. U.S. ethanol production also fell last year, reaching 59.8 billion liters. U.S. ethanol employment for 2019 was estimated at 299,600 jobs.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the IRENA website.