Renewables power green growth

5th June 2014

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  • Generation ,
  • Renewable


Fiona Glover

The output of environmental goods and services per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU increased by more than 50% between 2000 and 2011, latest Eurostat estimates show.

Over the same period, employment in this sector rose by about one-third across member states.

Although figures for individual countries are not strictly comparable, for most of the European countries that provided data, output by the end of the last decade ranged between 2.4% of GDP (Lithuania) and 6.2% (Finland).

When total output from the environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) is broken down into products relating to environmental protection (EP) and those associated with resource management (RM), the results show a sharp division. While EP output per unit of GDP increased by just 10% from 2000 to the end of that decade, RM output more than doubled.

According to Eurostat, the main driver for growth in RM was the increase in renewable energy activities (wind and solar power and biofuels), and energy- and heat-saving products. These areas were also responsible for driving the increase in employment in the EGSS; estimates suggest employment has risen from about three million to more than four million full-time equivalent employees within the EU since 2000.

The research also evaluates the income created by the EGSS in terms of gross-value added – the difference between output and intermediate consumption. In the EU states, the estimated share of EGSS gross value added in GDP has grown from 1.6% in 2000 to slightly more than 2% in 2011. Eurostat warns that this a conservative estimate, however, pointing out that it does not cover, for example, all RM activities, such as the management of forest resources and wild flora and fauna.

Just 16 countries provided voluntary data to Eurostat, and there are no figures for the UK or Ireland included in the analysis. The latest statistics from the UK’s business department, which were published in July 2013, show that sales of low-carbon and environmental goods and services increased by 4.8% in 2011/12. Mirroring the wider EU trend, growth was greatest in areas relating to wind generation, carbon finance and solar photovoltaic power.


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