Published on 26 - April - 2012
Major report reveals size of UK renewable energy sector
New research by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consultant Innovas reveals that the UK's £12.5 billion renewables industry supports 110,000 jobs across supply chain, and could support 400,000 by 2020.
"Renewable Energy: Made in Britain" is said to mark the first time that the turnover and employment figures of the entire UK renewables sector have been quantified and brought together in one place.
The report finds that in 2010/11, the UK renewables industry was worth £12.5 billion and supported 110,000 jobs, with 400,000 in total required to meet the 2020 renewables targets. The report also reveals:
· The overall increase in market value from 2009/10 to 2010/11 was 11 per cent - outstripping economic growth over the same period (1.4 per cent) by a factor of eight;
· Meeting our renewable energy targets would displace fossil fuels with a cumulative value of £60 billion to 2020, giving a significant boost to the UK's balance of trade.
These findings come just days after the European Commission identified the green economy as a "key sector" offering important job creation potential, with renewables alone claimed to provide up to 3 million jobs across the EU to 2020. Friends of the Earth revealed results of a survey which found that 85 per cent of Brits would like to see the Government increasing the use of clean British energy and reducing the use of overseas gas.
Launching the report, REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said: "Harnessing our renewables creates employment and means that rather than spending money on energy imports we can keep it circulating in the UK economy. Government needs to take steps to build the skills base and keep the UK on track to meet its renewables targets. When it comes to the employment, economic and energy challenges we face, the answer is clear - make it renewable and make it in Britain."
Minister of State for Climate Change Greg Barker added: "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."
Will Hutton, former editor-in-chief of the Observer and Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, said in the report's foreword: "There is another revolution in the making: come what may business and society need diverse and resilient sources of energy that are independent from the political and geological vagaries of fossil fuels."
Tim Yeo, REA president and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee's 2009 inquiry into 'Green Jobs and Skills', said: "The growth of the renewable energy industry is a really positive story for the UK and this report provides a great synopsis of our current position and the opportunities for the future. The Government must lead the way with a clearer and more systematic approach to developing the skills required to ensure a shortage does not derail the industry's continued expansion."
John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industries, said:
"Renewables will play a key role in the development of the low-carbon economy, helping to diversify the UK energy mix whilst also providing opportunities for economic growth and new jobs."
Frances O'Grady, deputy general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said:
"This report makes the strongest case yet to show that green opportunities, and the jobs the sector has the potential to create, can provide decent, highly skilled employment to people whose jobs are being lost as a result of changes in the global economy. The Government's green challenge is now to do all it can to create the investment climate to generate the green jobs we need to meet our 2020 target."
Keith Marshall OBE, chief executive of SummitSkills, one of the report's sponsors, said: "High quality skills are essential to making the growth of renewable energy a reality. The skills system is ready to respond - we just need the policy landscape completely joined up to drive demand for investment in training and upskilling. This report provides an essential building block to make this happen and we are pleased to be one of the sponsors."