European solar industry shrinks by 70,000

The number of jobs in the solar industry across Europe has fallen by 70,000 in the last seven years, according to a new study.

The study by EY for SolarPower Europe claims the number of solar jobs has fallen from around 180,000 in 2008 to around 110,000 today.

In addition, the Gross Value Added of the solar industry has decreased from around 10 billion to 6 billion Euros over the same time period.

But the report predicts the number of people working in the solar sector is set to rise to nearly 140,000 jobs by 2020, and Gross Value Added will rise as a result to 7 billion Euros.

“For Europe to each the European Commission’s ambition to be the number one in renewables, we need to accelerate the deployment of solar considerably in the coming years,” said SolarPower Europe Chief Executive, James Watson.

“This will boost employment and wealth generation far beyond the forecasts in this study,” he added.

“The last study on jobs commissioned by SolarPower Europe in 2011 showed employment at more than 250,000 jobs at that time,” said Mr Watson. 

“The decrease since then has been accelerated through policy changes introduced in Europe during this period.”

One of the areas considered in the study is the impact of European trade barriers on Chinese solar modules and calls.

According to the survey, more than 50,000 extra jobs could be created across Europe by 2020 if those barriers are removed.

“This would be good for the entire European solar value chain, creating more jobs and boosting the economy to support Europe in reaching its ambitious climate objectives, including to be the number one in renewables,” said Mr Watson.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues