The renewables industry employs "at least" 110,000 and is worth £12.5 billion to the UK economy, according to the first report to look at the overall value and number of jobs in the sector.
And those figures are set to grow to 400,000 jobs
and a turnover of £50 billion if the UK meets its renewable energy
targets by 2020, the report by the Renewable Energy Association
(REA) and consultants Innovas
The 'Renewable Energy: Made in Britain’ report, to be published tomorrow, for the first time looks at employment and turnover across renewable
sectors, including wind, marine, biomass, solar, biofuels, geothermal and waste-to-energy. It shows that overall these sectors have grown 11 per cent over the last two years – outstripping economic growth by a factor of eight.
Highlighting the sector’s strong growth, the report aims to dismiss the image that renewables are too risky and expensive at a time of austerity and warns that "business as usual" will amount to a £60 billion drain on the economy, through imported oil, gas and coal. And it calls for action in a number of areas, including taking a joined-up-approach on renewables policy
and investing in skills.
"When it comes to the employment, economic and energy challenges we face, the answer is clear – make it renewable and make it in Britain," REA chief executive chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said.
Employment and turnover
The report shows that just over 99,000 people were employed in the renewable energy sectors in the 2010/2011 financial year, but says that number will now have exceeded 110,000 "not least given the global and national boom in solar power last year".
The total UK turnover for all renewables and their supply chains in 2010/11 was around £12.5 billion, while the total export value for all renewable technologies was just under £1.6 billion.
Based on present growth rates, the report conservatively estimates the sector’s turnover wil reach over £24 billion by 2020, but should the UK meets its binding EU target of 15 per cent by 2020, the REA estimates over 400,000 jobs will be required to be employed in renewables by the end of the decade with an associated turnover of close to £50 billion.
It says that meeting the renewable energy targets would not only support domestic growth and domestic jobs, but would bring energy security and displace fossil fuels with a value of £11 billion in 2020.
Maintaining that renewable energy is not "excessively subsidised" in comparison with other energy sources, the report suggests the sector offers an opportunity to solve crises facing the UK on a number of fronts.
"The renewable energy targets, ageing infrastructure, diminishing energy security, poor economic growth and high unemployment are a circle crying out to be squared," the report states. It says that a joined-up approach, which treats all of these problems together, will create "the single most important economic opportunity of this generation".
It therefore calls on the Government to relaunch the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, currently housed within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), as "a cross-departmental office chaired by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister" and the appointment of a Business, Innovation and Skills Minister with a renewable energy remit.
It also recommends:
• the recording of employment figures in renewables by the Office for National Statistics
• the routine assessment of the economic benefits of renewable energy by HMT; and
• the publication of a national strategy for renewable energy skills.
The latter, the report, argues is "crucial" in order to both diffuse the renewables skills "time bomb" and to help solve the UK’s unemployment problem.
Commenting on the report, Energy Minister Greg Barker said: "Renewable energy not only provides us with clean and secure energy that cuts our reliance on imported fossil fuels - it generates billions of pounds of investment and potentially hundreds and thousands of jobs and is a key growth sector for the UK economy.
"The REA’s report sets out plainly the opportunities and challenges in this area. We are determined to seize the momentum and secure maximum benefit for the UK."
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