Renewables jobs up 74% as economy flatlines

20th September 2013

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Despite the UK economy struggling to return to growth, the wind and marine sector is powering ahead, with the number of people it employs increasing by 74% since 2010

The latest research from RenewableUK confirms that in 2013 18,465 people were working full time in the sector, compared with just 10,600 in 2010. The 2013 figures reveal that 25% (4,616) are involved the planning and development of wind and marine projects, in roles such as environmental impact assessment.

The bulk of the jobs are in England (62%) and in the onshore wind sector (54%). However, the biggest growth in employment has been seen in the offshore wind sector, which now employs double the number of people that it did three years ago. Meanwhile, the UK saw overall unemployment figures reach a 17-year high in 2011.

RenewableUK’s figures also reveal that wind and marine energy is indirectly supporting another 15,900 full-time jobs across the UK, in the wider supply chain.

“Our report clearly demonstrates how the wind, wave and tidal industries are creating jobs and growth for the economy,” said Maria McCaffery, chief executive at RenewableUK. “If the UK gets this right, our wind, wave and tidal industries could employ more than 70,000 people over the next decade. The offshore wind sector alone could be employing nearly 45,000 workers in the 2020s. As an industry we are truly creating jobs out of fresh air.”

The employment figures came as a group of 66 renewables organisations, including RenewableUK, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, called on EU policymakers to implement a legally binding renewable energy target for 2030.

In an open letter to the EU energy and climate change commissioners, the European Renewable Energy Council, argued that the EU’s 2020 targets for 20% of energy to be generated from renewable sources had worked well in driving investment into the sector and that a further target should be set for the end of 2030.

“2030 is already at our doorstep. Given the long investment cycles in the energy sector and the fact that investment decisions in the EU’s energy markets strongly depend on reliability, certainty about the regulatory framework of the next 17 years is needed,” states the letter.

REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “The UK remains in the bottom three of the EU renewables league table with only 4% renewables. But the government has learned a lot from working within [the EU’s] 20-20-20 framework, and it makes sense to go for a similar framework for 2030, including a binding renewables target.

“This will enable the government to build on those lessons, reassure investors, scale up the industry, boost our energy security, reduce our emissions and grow our budding green economy.”

In July, energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey confirmed that the UK was against proposals from the European Commission to impose a 30% renewable energy target by 2030.

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