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UK's clean energy sector supports over 100,000 jobs, attracts significant private sector investment

Date
02 May 2014
UK's clean energy sector supports over 100,000 jobs, attracts significant private sector investment

LONDON: The UK’s renewable energy industry has attracted almost £30 billion of private sector investment since 2010, a new report from the Renewable Energy Agency, in partnership with Innovas and PwC, has revealed.

The REA:REview – Renewable Energy View: 2014 highlights the clean energy sector, which is responsible for 4.2% of UK energy, has been steadily growing and in 2013 supported over 100,000 jobs. Since 2009, renewable electricity generation increased on average by 20.3% on an annual basis.

Furthermore, the findings of the comprehensive study indicate that the Government’s target of 30% renewable electricity in 2020 is achievable. UK renewable electricity is predominantly derived from wind energy, biomass, energy from waste and solar power, but these would need to be scaled up if the UK Government is committed to meeting the 2020 goal, the analysts argue.

The report acknowledges that the current employment figure of 103,000 represents a decline of 7,000 jobs from 2010/2011, and attribute this to job losses in small-scale solar caused by the government’s decision to slash feed-in-tariffs in 2011/12. However, the analysts note that large-scale solar power has already expanded, and this increase, when combined with the expected growth in renewable heating, will ensure that between 110,000 and 124,000 people will be employed in the sector in three years’ time.

REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska, remarked that there is a “close relationship between clear, stable policies and sustained growth and jobs in the renewable energy industry,” and added that “the Government’s renewable electricity policies have incentivized nearly £28 billion of private investment since 2010, achieving annual growth rates of over 20%”.

The REA study recognizes that the market for renewable energy investment is strong, with £29.8 billion invested in UK renewables between 2010 and 2013. Of this, just under £28 billion was invested in renewable electricity, with renewable heat and transport investment rounding up the total figure.

Ronan O’Regan, Head of Renewable Energy at PwC, stressed that “clear ongoing policy support” will be necessary if the UK Government is serious about attracting sufficient investment to guarantee that its 2020 renewables deployment projections are met.

The research acknowledges there is, however, a significant variation in investment depending on region. Per capita investment in Scotland was three times that of Northern Ireland and Wales, and double that of England. The analysts attribute this notable difference to Scotland’s burgeoning offshore wind sector.

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager at The Climate Group, shared his thoughts on the research findings:“This timely report highlights two important facts for policy and decision makers. First, that the renewable energy industry is an increasingly important engine for sustainable growth in the UK. And second, that there are real and substantive costs to jobs and businesses when governments abruptly change the rules of the game, such as with the slashing of solar feed in tariffs in 2011/12. The renewable energy sector needs ‘long, loud and legal’ investment certainty from the government, not just because of the role it plays in addressing climate change but also because it matters more and more to the long term economic health of the UK.”

Image Credit:Flickr/Andy S-D

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