The renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs globally in 2017, a 5.3 per cent increase from 2016, according to the latest figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). According to the fifth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review, launched at IRENA’s 15th Council in Abu Dhabi today, the total number of people employed in the sector (including large hydropower) now stands at 10.3 million globally, surpassing the 10 million figure for the first time.
China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan remain the world’s largest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70 per cent of all industry jobs globally. Although growing numbers of countries are reaping the socio-economic benefits of renewables, the bulk of manufacturing takes place in relatively few countries and domestic markets vary enormously in size. Sixty per cent of all renewable energy jobs are in Asia.
“Renewable energy has become a pillar of low-carbon economic growth for governments all over the world, a fact reflected by the growing number of jobs created in the sector.” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
“The data also underscores an increasingly regionalised picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident,” continued Mr. Amin. “Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonisation of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050.”
The solar PV industry remains the largest employer of all renewable energy technologies, accounting for close to 3.4 million jobs, up almost 9 per cent from 2016 following a record 94 gigawatts (GW) of installations in 2017. China was estimated to account for two-thirds of PV jobs – equivalent to 2.2 million – representing an expansion of 13 per cent over the previous year.
Despite a slight dip in Japan and the United States, the two countries followed China as the largest markets for solar PV employment in the world. India and Bangladesh complete a top five that accounts for around 90 per cent of global solar PV jobs.
Jobs in the wind industry contracted slightly last year to 1.15 million worldwide. While wind jobs are found in a relatively small number of countries, the degree of concentration is lower than in the solar PV sector. China accounts for 44 per cent of global wind employment, followed by Europe and North America with 30 and 10 per cent, respectively. Half of the top ten countries with the largest installed capacity of wind power in the world are European.
“The energy transformation is one of improving economic opportunity and a rise in social wellbeing as countries implement supportive policies and attractive regulatory frameworks to fuel industrial growth and sustainable job creation,” said Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Head of IRENA’s Policy Unit and Deputy Director of Knowledge, Policy and Finance.
“By providing policy makers with this level of detail about the composition of renewable energy employment and skills requirements, countries can make informed decisions on several important national objectives, from education and training, to industrial policies and labour market regulations,” continued Dr. Ferroukhi. “Such considerations will support a fair and equitable transition to a renewables based energy system.”
Download the full report here.
The greening of China’s industrial strategy
The prominence of China’s role in the global green shift currently underway may seem a paradox. Whilst it has been despoiling its own environment and that of some other countries in pursuit of the same fossil-fuelled industrialisation strategy that made the West wealthy, China has also emerged as a renewables superpower, dwarfing other countries in its building of renewable capacity and the speed of its transition to innovations such as electric cars, trucks and buses. China is betting big on renewables and on a circular economy. Indeed, the success of its development depends on this wager succeeding. Scale is the key to understanding its strategy: China’s industrialisation is a process taking place at a scale without historical precedent.
Like all previous industrial powers, China initially depended on fossil fuels for its industrialisation. It has paid a terrible price for this – far more than earlier industrialisers, including its predecessors in East Asia. As China became the largest manufacturing power on the planet, it created a huge domestic market that provided a first port of entry to global industry for its manufacturing and service firms, on a scale that exceeded its East Asian predecessors. China was able to utilise its domestic banking system to channel flows of savings to firms as they sought to catch up with international rivals. In these ways, the strategy has followed earlier patterns of industrialisation, with emphasis on manufacturing, state guidance and state-derived finance, while exhibiting some differences in emphasis, such as the use of its own domestic market, its own finance and foreign reserves, and a combination of national and provincial state involvement and guidance.
But a feature of China’s industrialisation that is decidedly unique is its strategy for supplying the energy needed for its industrialisation efforts. Alongside China’s “black” industrialisation strategy, powered by fossil fuels, has been a “green” strategy, focused on renewables and circulated resources – again, at unprecedented scale. China has been greening its energy and resources system at a furious pace, while maintaining a dependence on fossil fuels that is steadily diminishing. The chart below reveals how China has been ramping up its green electric power system to become the largest green electricity producer on the planet. The shift in electric power generation towards water, wind and sun as sources is clear – a 15% green shift in capacity in just the past decade, an enormous change for such a huge technoeconomic system.
What is driving this green trend?
If China were to proceed with the typical industrialisation strategy – based on fossil fuels and the plunder of raw materials – then it would face insuperable problems. These would not just be problems of shortages of resources and immediate environmental problems, but most centrally problems to do with the geopolitical limits to a fossil-fuelled strategy relying on virgin materials. To put it bluntly, China would face entanglements in oil wars and resource wars if it were to pursue such a strategy at the scale of industrialisation it is managing – not to mention the burden on its balance of payments as it sought to raise its imports of these fossil fuels. It would mean a horrendous 21st century – for China and for everyone else.
As interpreted by China, a green growth strategy is not so much about a return to nature, but instead involves a clear reliance on manufacturing of energy, as well as greening of food supply through increased reliance on enclosed urban agriculture. The advantage for China of renewables technologies is that they can be manufactured domestically and enjoy economies of scale and cost reductions associated with the manufacturing learning curve.
It is not lost on China that these are all potentially the mainstream energy, transport and food production industries of the future, where the country’s state agencies clearly anticipate it will emerge as world leader, at the technological cutting edge. While the United States under President Trump battles to maintain the supremacy of its fossil fuel industries, China is forging ahead to dismantle its coal, oil and gas dependence and build strong renewables and resource recirculation industries based on its manufacturing strengths. This is what may be interpreted most accurately as China’s green growth industrialisation strategy.
When one looks at the scale involved in its industrialisation, China really has no alternative to a green strategy. And in the typical no-nonsense approach of the Chinese government, their leadership has adopted it with determination and ambition. As China adopts this green shift strategy, so it drives down costs for itself and for all – and makes such a strategy more accessible to other industrialising countries like India, Brazil or nations in Africa. And so the green shift that is initiated by China becomes a global green shift – even if it is complicated by further investments by Chinese state-owned enterprises in coal power as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. This in turn opens opportunities for companies and countries nimble enough to take advantage of them – including companies based in the US, the EU or Japan.
As China’s economy emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be expected to focus even more on this green growth strategy. After all, this is where China holds decisive competitive advantages in terms of manufactured exports and energy as well as resources security. The 14th Five Year Plan can be expected to place primary emphasis on both features of China’s industrialisation in the 2020s – the greening of its energy, transport and industrial systems, and the growing levels of resource recirculation (e.g. “urban mining” of electronics materials) as it pursues circular economy strategic initiatives.
At the time of writing, oil prices have hit a record low (even moving into negative territory) and so no doubt some tactical purchases are being made by China. But it would be a serious error to regard these purchases as deflecting China from its long-term strategy of green growth, and the energy and resource security it brings with it.
From our partner chinadialogue
The oil market crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a crisis or rather a real collapse in the oil barrel price, down from approximately sixty US dollars just before the coronavirus spread to the current twenty dollars – with downward peaks before the end of April 2020, still significantly lower than the current twenty dollar average.
The origin of the price collapse is obvious, i.e. the closure of the purchasing countries’ economies and the major crisis in the car market, in particular, with the lockdown of all public and private mobility.
Moreover, for many producing countries, twenty dollars a barrel is a price well below break-even points and sometimes below the mere production cost.
Fifty-sixty US dollars a barrel is less than the cost of oil extraction in the Arctic, for example, and less than what is necessary to break even European and Brazilian biofuel production, but also US and Canadian shale oil. In Great Britain the oil barrel cost is 52.50 US dollars, while in Saudi Arabia the cost for producing an oil barrel is still 10 US dollars approximately.
Saudi Arabia, however, also needs much higher prices, at least from eighty US dollars per barrel upwards, to rebalance its public budget and seriously invest in production diversification, not to even mention the social stability of this country and, in other ways, that of the Russian Federation.
World demand has therefore plummeted, with a reduction of 29 million barrels per day from the over 100 ones a year ago.
This also means that storage capacity has reached the saturation point, with countries selling directly at sea, with a view to avoiding the high and unpredictable costs of overproduction and, by now, even at direct agreement low prices.
According to some specialized analysts, oil production will fall by at least 9.3 million barrels per year, until the time in which the coronavirus epidemic stops significantly. But this is a very optimistic forecast.
As is already seen, the most predictable effects of collapse in oil prices will most likely be the bankruptcy of small and medium-sized oil companies in the United States and Canada, where the banks had also strongly supported these companies with debt.
The economic, financial and social repercussions on these countries’ productive systems will be immediate and hard to manage.
Some extraction of US and Canadian “zombie” companies has continued, in view of cashing immediate liquidity, but, obviously, this cannot last very long.
It is hard to speak about public support for oil companies, considering their international corporate structure and, above all, because of the large mass of liquidity that would be greatly needed and would inevitably be drawn from other budget items, which are more socially necessary and with a strong psychological and hence electoral impact.
Nevertheless, the whole economy of producing and of typically consuming countries – which, for various wrong or short-term choices, have never established their own “OPEC” – will be severely affected by the vertical fall in oil prices, even though the US IAEA supported and legitimized the cut in production last April. The initial sign of an inevitable agreement between producers and consumers in the future, also at financial and investment level.
Furthermore, some producing countries have considerable financial funds to stand up to the fall in the oil barrel price, probably even until the end of the pandemic, but this is certainly not the case with other producers.
Saudi Arabia, the UAEs and Kuwait can last relatively long, albeit stopping their plans for economic expansion and diversification in the short term. Just think here of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan.
Iraq, Iran and Venezuela – with Iraq which is currently one of Italy’s largest exporters – will certainly have to withstand periods of extreme social crisis and even political legitimacy.
In Africa, Nigeria and Libya will face further political and social crises of unpredictable severity – in addition to internal wars by proxy, as in Libya.
China itself, the current largest oil buyer, has stopped as many as 10 oil shipments by sea from Saudi Arabia.
The tax break-even point reveals the complex internal dynamics and trends of manufacturers: Saudi Arabia is at 91 US dollars; Oman at 82; Abu Dhabi at 61; Qatar at 65; Bahrain at 95. Iraq is currently at 60 US dollars, but it should be noted that Iran is now at 195 US dollars, Algeria at 109 and Libya at 100- to the extent to which Libyan oil exports can work after General Haftar’s closure of oil wells- while Nigeria is at 144 US dollars and Angola has only acost + tax per barrel of 55 US dollars.
Currently Russia has a strong need for a tax per barrel of at least 42 US dollars, while Mexico 49 and Kazakhstan 58 US dollars.
In order to survive, the US, Canadian and Norwegian oil companies need an oil barrel cost of 48, 60 and only 27 US dollars, respectively, to simply break even.
Russia will probably be able to survive(“for ten years”, as it says, but probably exaggerating) a pandemic crisis, which has also hit its own population hard, by using its Strategic Fund, which is currently worth 124 billion US dollars.
Every year of crisis, however, is likely to cost Russia 40-50 billion US dollars.
Not to mention jobs, which could be reduced by over a million in Russia.
Saudi Arabia, too, is very liquid, and predicts a loss of over 45 billion US dollars at the end of the pandemic.
If Saudi Arabia makes another deal with Russia and manages to raise the oil barrel price to 40 US dollars, it is supposed to reduce losses to 40 billion US dollars annually.
Iraq, the second largest Middle Eastern exporter, covers 90% of its public spending with oil revenues.
In Iran and Iraq, the closing down of private companies has caused the almost total closure of oil production since last March.
Moreover, Iraq has no sovereign funds. Mexico has already started to implement “austerity” measures, although it has stated there will be no closures or staff cuts in the public sector.
The Nigerian GDP will certainly go below zero. Nigeria was the economy recording the greatest development rate in Africa, but since May it has had 50 million barrels unsold.
The unemployment rate will rise from 25% to well over 25 million people, but Nigeria has a very small Sovereign Fund that owns 2 billion US dollars.
There are very large differences among producing countries. There are countries with a financial power potentially able to further stand up to the collapse of oil prices and countries with an internal social and economic situation on the verge of collapse, as well as other economies floundering in a very severe crisis.
Just think of the Lebanon, which had already defaulted before the fall in oil prices. Obviously neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran will help it any longer.
This means that the producing countries with a more “liquid” financial situation can start buying oil assets – not at a very low cost – from their fellow OPEC competitors or even outside that OPEC protectionist framework, while the countries without long or short liquidity, will quickly be economically colonized by the strongest ones and this would make their economic autonomy irrelevant. Especially if they are, like Iraq, truly oil dependent countries.
The GDP for the current year, however, is expected to slightly decrease in Kuwait (-1%) while Algeria and Iraq are expected to immediately fall to a -5%, which could be fatal not only for their economy but also for their social stability.
Libya, just to remind us of a key country for our security, as well as for oil, will record an expected fall in GDP of almost -58%.
It is easy to understand what will happen and how much impact it will have on Italy.
The International Monetary Fund has also predicted a quick rebound in prices beyond the oil break-even point for the whole oil area between Africa and the Middle East as early as 2021, but the forecast seems to be completely unfounded, given the multi-year length of the buyers’ crisis and hence the inevitable fall in producers’ prices.
Even if the coronavirus crisis were to end in a month, which is highly unlikely, the economic outlook would not change radically even for 2021.
The fact is that, according to all the most reliable projections, the GDP of non-producing countries will fall even faster than that of oil-producing countries.
Certainly there is the temporary relief and redress of public accounts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) non-producing countries, which is estimated at around 3-4% of their GDP, but these are countries like Morocco and Jordan having little economic weight in their respective geo-economic regions.
There is also another factor to consider: the producing countries’ crisis adds to the much longer-standing crisis in the African countries exporting not oil, but food products.
I am here referring to Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco – which is still a leading country in the world production of citrus fruits, with companies cooperating with the United States – and to the wine-producing Tunisia.
The FAO sugar index has fallen to -14.6% – more than ever over the last 13 years.
The FAO index for vegetable oil is -5.2%. The dairy prices are currently falling by 3.6% and meat prices by 2.7%. Wheat prices, however, are expected to remain stable, although storage, and hence the future final cost, will increase from now on.
Certainly the “rich” producing countries, i.e. those with greater liquidity reserves, have already begun to inject liquidity and implement tax rebates.
Saudi Arabia has tripled VAT from 5 to 15%. It has also issued 7 billion US dollars of public debt securities that will fall due in 5, 10 and 40 years respectively, with a 5% planned restriction of public spending, and as many as 13.3 billion US dollars in support of small and medium-sized enterprises, with the nationalisation of 14,000 jobs in the most technologically advanced sectors.
Just to give an example of the most capitalized oil exporting country.
It is not even said that soon the Saudi and Emirates’ sovereign funds do not want to acquire – at selling-off prices – even the U.S. and Canadian shale oil industries undergoing an evident crisis.
Both in countries in crisis and in those with greater financial resources investment will be well diversified in the health or in the large infrastructure sectors. Investment will be made also in research and in the expansion of the oil sector, which will certainly start working again – as and probably more than before – at the end of the pandemic.
There will probably be an economic and financial rebalancing between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which have similar interests, both in the purchase of shale oil companies in crisis, obviously, but also in a closer direct financial relationship, considering that Saudi Arabia still holds 177 billion US dollars of North American public debt securities.
A record amount which could increase rapidly.
Obviously, in the darkest phase of the crisis, the objective of the financially sound OPEC countries will be diversification from oil to more technologically advanced and expanding sectors, such as health and pharmacology, particularly abroad, but again without neglecting the oil sector.
While maintaining the same – or almost the same – current investment in the oil sector, which cannot but take off again in the short to long term.
For the other less financially sound countries, it will be about implementing great political reforms, which may at least stabilize the countries floundering in severe economic crisis, or having their oil assets quickly sold by the richest Arab countries, which will thus have a much greater power of pressure vis-à-vis consumer countries when the oil recovery starts.
The Next Forty-Seven Years of Oil war
We know the meaning of this compound word before the fluctuations of petroleum products. Peter means rock oleum oil. The first reason to address rock oil was (Dr Natura Fossilium). The author of this article is a German mineralogist. It was George Beaver who published this creative work in 1546, naming it Agri-Cola. In modern times, it is also known as crude oil. A mixture of hydrogen and carbon in naturally occurring molecules. Other organic compounds (nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur) include natural metals (iron, nickel, copper and vanadium).The composition and quantity are as follows: Carbon contains 83 to 87 per cent, hydrogen 10 to 14 per cent, nitrogen 0.1 to 3 per cent, oxygen 0.1 to 1.5 per cent, sulfur 0.5 to 6 per cent and metals less than 1000 ppm.
Crude oil contains four types of hydrocarbons (alkynes and cycloalcins). Paraffin averages 30 per cent while its content is 15 to 65 per cent, nephrons averages 49 per cent and 30 to 60 per cent, aromatics averages 15 per cent and 3 per cent. 30%, asphaltics average 6% while the rest consists of the same. In this energy race, the United States managed to run the fastest, capturing Iraq’s purchase of 500 metric tons of uranium from Canada in the blink of an eye. This uranium proved to be a golden hen for the United States. Eggs were supplied to India by the United States with multiple interest rates.
South Asian countries were thrown into a new marathon race, which ignited the Great War in many countries. Russia and the United States have torn these countries apart for three decades. In the field of strong dollars and investment, the Allies have tested a new weapon that seemed to be a relatively loss-making deal but a double-edged sword. And the most mineral-rich land in the eyes of the United States was shining brightly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In order to gain ground power, the United States had a golden opportunity to hollow out the Soviet Union internally. Professor Richard Heinberg of California, Santa Rosa, has created a CIA report that the United States has played with oil prices to subdue the Russian economy.
One author predicted that in the future, Russia would become a buyer of oil from OPEC, not a seller-policy. Implementation would leave Russia trapped in the international economic system. In the 1980s, the United States pushed Saudi Arabia into a war in which every effort was made to make oil production available on the cheap market. The United States was completely successful. During this period, the United States considered weapons as the source of all its efforts. Russia wanted to compete in this race by selling oil at exorbitant prices, but was unsuccessful and lost. The United States took Saudi Arabia into the alliance because it owned the largest oil reserves in the world. OPEC countries (1189.80 billion barrels) have 79.4% reserve’s and non-OPEC countries (308.18 billion barrels) have reserves of 20.6%.
At the end of 2018, Saudi Arabia owned 22.4 percent of them. Venezuela tops the list with 25.5 (bb) percent. Overall, OPEC countries added 186.2 billion barrels of proven oil to the market from 2009 to 2018, while non-OPEC countries accounted for only 24.6 billion barrels. Non-OPEC countries’ reserves in production stood at 152.1 billion barrels. On the other hand, OPEC could only touch the graph of 113.8 billion barrels. At the end of 2018, OPEC released the names of the largest exporters of crude oil in its annual report. Venezuela (302.81 BB) first, Saudi Arabia (267.03 BB) second, Iran (155.60 BB), Iraq (145.02 BB), Kuwait (101.50 BB), UAC (97.80 BB), Libya (48.36) BB), Nigeria (36.9) 7 BB), Algeria (12.20 BB), Ecuador (8.27 BB), Angola (8.16 BB), Congo (2.98 BB), Gabon (2.00 BB) and finally Equatorial Guinea(1.10 BB). In 2018, the world demanded 98.72 million barrels of oil per day.Non-OECD oil consumption has been higher in terms of cost.
A year is divided into four parts. In 2017, the United States spent the most oil in the world in 2Q and 4Q, but in 2018 its spending rate is 1Q, 3Q and 4Q. The United States ranks first in terms of oil consumption at 19687287 barrels per day, which is 934.3 gallons per capita per year. Singapore (3679.5 gallons per capita) consumes the most oil per gallon, followed by Saudi Arabia (1560.2 gallons per capita) annually. US oil production is 14.83 billions barrels per year. Saudi Arabia second with 12.4 billion barrels per year, Russia third with 11.26 billion barrels per annum, China fourth with 4.99 billion barrels per year, Canada 4.59 billion barrels per year. Iraq ranks fifth with 6.44 billion barrels a year.
In 2016, the world’s proven oil reserves were 1.65 trillion barrels and oil consumption was 35.44 billion barrels per year and 97.1 million barrels per day. According to this calculation, oil reserves will be available for 47 years. The population of 2016 was based on 7 billion 464 million 22 thousand 49 people. Global oil consumption is 5 barrels (199 gallons) per person per year was. But today, on May 7, 2020, the world’s population is 7 billion 78 hundred million 28 million 4 thousand 8 hundred 41 and oil reserves are 15 trillion 9 billion 57 hundred million 16 million 29 thousand 3 hundred 2 barrels. The person will come. We will be able to use the remaining amount of oil for 47 years, 237 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes. The rapid depletion of oil reserves speaks volumes about human difficulties in the future. Oil is considered to be the biggest source of human needs in the world. From human transportation to the fertility of the land, the need for oil has made man needy. Expectations of hot wars, not cold wars in the future. There will be a reduction in the need to grow more than food.
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