Top energy transition trends: Investment, jobs and educational insights for 2024

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Energy Renewables and Power Technology
Nana Terra

By Nana Terra
June 10, 2024

June 11, 2024

0 min read

Countries worldwide have reviewed their policies to implement the promises and commitments made to society and the next generations following COP28. These include huge projects, digital transformation, grid modernisation, carbon capture and storage, green hydrogen, fiscal incentives, international collaboration, and more. 

Crucial steps have been taken to accelerate the energy transition. In 2023, global investment in the sector hit $1.8 trillion, up 17% on the previous year and a new record.

However, there is a consensus that tripling renewable power and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 are the keys to keeping the Paris Agreement and ensuring the Earth stays on a 1.5°C pathway — the level of global warming to which the countries have agreed to limit it. 

Time is running out, and meeting this complex challenge will require investments and a new generation of talent. Find out key trends and how to address them.

Partner with our green recruitment company to find top talent for your  renewable energy projects.

As the world strives to meet ambitious climate goals, understanding the latest trends in energy transition investments and education is crucial. This blog explores key developments and what they mean for the future of our planet. 

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the annual average investment in renewable power generation must reach USD 1,300 billion by 2030, compared to USD 486 billion in 2022, to achieve the global financial architecture needed to support the energy transition.

The global energy transition requires a significant reduction in carbon emissions across the entire energy industry, as well as in end-use sectors. Leveraging low-cost solar PV, onshore and offshore wind turbines, and other renewable electricity generation energy sources, the power sector must lead the way as solutions in other sectors scale up. 

Accelerating the progress of the transition worldwide requires a holistic approach, backed by systemic innovation to transform existing structures and systems built for the fossil fuel era. 


Energy transition investment trends

Bar chart of global clean investments from 2004 to 2023, showing significant growth in various sectors.

A recent report from BloombergNEF shows that global investment in the low-carbon energy transition surged 17% in 2023, reaching $1.77 trillion. Investment in the clean energy supply chain hit $135 billion and could rise to $259 billion by 2025

This number is a new record level of annual investment and demonstrates the resilience of the clean energy transition in a year of geopolitical turbulence, high interest rates and cost inflation.

Talent shortage: how many workers are needed for the energy transition?

Chart comparing degrees in renewable energy and fossil fuels from 1999 to 2019, with projections to 2107.

The green economy will create up to 43 million new jobs by 2050. As the world shifts towards renewable energy, the gap between the demand for a skilled workforce in clean energy industries and the supply of qualified professionals is becoming increasingly evident. 

The transformation of labour markets and professions within the global energy sector hinges on the availability of a workforce equipped with the necessary education and skills.

Despite the growing opportunities in clean energy sectors, there's a concerning lag in filling these positions swiftly enough. The Energy Research & Social Science journal has published a new study on the energy transition in global higher education. 

The study assesses how quickly global higher education is transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy in terms of educational content. It is based on a review of 18,400 universities in 196 countries.

The study presents several alarming findings. The main result is that the world still produces more workforce for fossil fuels than for renewable energy industries.

68% of the world’s energy educational degrees are focused on fossil fuels, and only 32% on renewable energy. At the current rate of change, renewable energy university degrees would reach 100% only by the year 2107.

Energy transition educational trends 

Here are some critical points and data from recent studies and reports:

Underfunding in Renewable Energy Education   

  • Only 2 universities worldwide fully focus on renewable energy, compared to 33 universities specializing in petroleum studies.
  • In 2019, 32% of energy faculties were dedicated to renewables, significantly lower than the 68% dedicated to fossil fuels.

Private vs. Public Universities

  • The share of renewable energy degree programs at public universities increased from 16% in 1999 to 34% in 2019. For private universities, this share went from 21% to 39% in the same period, indicating a slightly more active shift towards clean energy education in private institutions.

Developing Countries Falling Behind

  • Renewable energy education lags significantly in developing regions despite the higher need for professionals trained in renewable energy. This discrepancy could impede the energy transition in these areas.

Shift in Energy Education Needed

  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement goals, necessitates a large, well-qualified workforce. This calls for reorienting energy education towards renewables.

Where are the green jobs?

World map showing renewable energy jobs by region in 2022, totaling 13.7 million jobs.

Currently, there are 13.7 million renewable energy professionals working in the industry worldwide. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2030, the clean energy sector will create 30 million new jobs. Meanwhile, around 13 million jobs in fossil fuel-related industries are expected to either become obsolete or be at risk. 

This indicates not only job creation but also a transition from oil and gas roles to green positions.

Join the energy transition with Airswift

Airswift collaborates with major companies in the renewables sector to bridge the talent gap. Our team of renewable energy recruiters offer consulting services to clients, hiring managers, and candidates to help them navigate the transition to clean energy.

With over 60 offices worldwide, 1,000 employees, and 9,000 contractors, we have successfully filled permanent and contract positions across various clean energy disciplines.

If you're seeking your next role in the clean energy industry, reach out to Airswift. We have assisted numerous STEM professionals from diverse sectors who are eager to play a crucial role in the energy transition.

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