Research and analysis into the benefits of renewables

A range of environmental benefits, such as lower carbon emissions and reduced air pollution, have been widely known for decades. However, many socioeconomic benefits have only become apparent in recent decades, as the deployment of renewable technologies has become more widespread.


Renewable energy provides a significant—and growing—number of jobs worldwide each year. IRENA estimates that the renewable energy sector employed a record 9.8 million people worldwide in 2016, driven by sharp increases in renewables investments. This growth, in turn, was the result of rapidly falling costs, technological improvements, and supportive government policies.


Renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity, also produce few or no air pollutants compared with conventional sources. Other technologies such as biomass and geothermal do emit air pollutants, but at much lower rates than most conventional fuels. Air pollution is a critically important issue in many developing countries, where up to 2.9 billion people still rely on wood, coal and charcoal for cooking and heating homes. Cleaner alternatives such as biomass, solar, and passive solar can potentially play a role.


Some renewable energy technologies are less prone to large-scale failure because they are distributed and modular. This confers advantages especially during severe weather events of complex emergencies, as they can be deployed quickly and in a dispersed fashion - getting electricity to people where they need it without complex and time-consuming infrastructure development.

Energy Access

Today, over one billion people still lack access to electricity, and another one billion have an unreliable supply. Improved reliability, rapidly falling technology costs, and supportive policies have made stand-alone and mini-grid renewable electricity solutions viable for the 80% of those without access who live in rural areas or in small island developing states. One of the most compelling arguments for off-grid solutions is that they are decentralized, and because project development activities occur locally, job creation is also localized.