The amount of energy derived from renewable energy sources in Australia continues to grow. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Energy Account, Australia 2016-17 (cat. no. 4604.0) released in February 2019 reports that 380 petajoules (PJ) of energy was supplied from renewable sources in 2016-17, up from 240PJ in 2008-09. While the proportion of energy supplied from renewable sources in Australia remains small (1.6% in 2016-17), the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources is significant and growing. The Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) in its Australian Energy Update 2018 reports that 16% of Australia's electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2016-17. There is considerable interest in renewable energy including interest in the amount of employment associated with renewable energy activities. This publication contains estimates of annual direct full time equivalent (FTE) employment in renewable energy activities for the years 2009-10 to 2017-18 for Australia and its states and territories. This project was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
An important role of this publication is to establish guiding principles for understanding employment in renewable energy. These guidelines have been established in large part by following general accounting principles embodied in relevant international statistical standards: the 2008 edition of the System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) and the 2012 Central Framework of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA-CF). Estimates are also consistent with guidelines concerning a statistical definition of employment in the environmental sector produced by the International Labour Organisation. Appendix 1 of the guidelines describes how relevant international statistical standards have been interpreted and used to develop a notion of employment in renewable energy activities.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Renewable Energy and Jobs - Annual Review 2018 publishes estimates of employment in renewable energy at global, regional and national levels. IRENA acknowledges the difficulties of drawing together disparate data on employment in renewable energy activities but does not offer a precise definition of renewable energy employment. Similarly, national estimates of employment in renewable energy jobs, both official and unofficial, typically provide only limited detail on those activities deemed to be 'renewable energy' activities. This publication systematically identifies, for each renewable energy type, the main activities considered to be in scope of employment in renewable energy activities. These activities typically range from manufacturing of equipment specific to renewable energy; installation of renewable energy infrastructure; and the operation and maintenance of this infrastructure. This publication includes employment in government agencies and non-profit institutions (NPIs) where this employment is predominantly motivated by support for renewable energy.
Appropriate estimation methodologies are required to support estimates of employment in renewable energy activities. National statistical agencies do not typically collect information on renewable energy employment directly from survey respondents since the burden on survey respondents and on statistical agencies can be considerable, especially given the difficulties in identifying an appropriate list of employing businesses. The ABS has estimated employment in renewable energy activities by using two techniques: firstly, by accessing information made publicly available on websites by renewable energy providers and other bodies; and secondly by utilising employment factors. The latter technique uses information on the amount of energy produced by renewable energy installations, numbers of installations and specific employment factors. Employment factors indicate the number of annual direct FTE jobs created per physical unit of choice. The technique is described more fully in the Explanatory Notes.
The estimates contained in this publication represent the outcome of development work requiring the use of assumptions and synthetic estimates for some data components, and are considered experimental. The ABS has sought and received valuable input from the statistical user community to develop the methodologies underpinning these estimates, in particular from industry experts and from relevant government agencies.
The ABS hopes that future editions of this publication will continue to benefit from the input of interested parties from industry, government, academia and the general community. As such, the ABS welcomes feedback on the estimates contained in this publication. Comments may be directed to <email@example.com> or in hardcopy to:
Director, Centre of Environmental and Satellite Accounts, Physical Environment Accounts and Statistics Branch
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 9817
Brisbane QLD 4001.