Nearly 126,000 employed in UK renewables industry, new report shows

The UK’s renewable energy industry, including heat, power and transport, employed a record 125,940 people in 2015/16, according to a new report.

The report is called REView 2017 and is the sector’s authoritative annual publication.

The number of jobs grew by 2.5% between 2014/15 and 2015/16, a significant decline in growth from two years previous when growth was at nearly 9%.

REView is published with employment data from independent consultancy Innovas and investment data and analysis by KPMG.

Key points raised in the REView 2017 publication include:

  • 125,940 jobs in renewable energy in 2015/16,
  • For the first time data has been compiled on employment in energy storage and electric vehicles, clean tech sectors which employ 16,256 people,
  • Renewable energy industry turnover of £17.4bn in 2015/16, a growth of 3.5% on the previous year,
  • The number of companies operating in renewable energy, however, has fallen by 5%, largely due to a significant contraction in the solar PV market (turnover in which has fallen to 2011/12 levels).

The industry turnover has been growing at an average rate of around 6% annually since 2012/13.

2015 General Election

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) argues that employment and turnover growth has slowed significantly due to the over 15 negative policy changes by the government since the 2015 General Election.

Employment growth rates have been shrinking in recent years. Between 2012/13 and 2013/14 jobs growth was 8.8%, and between 2013/14 and 2014/15 jobs growth was 4.2%.

It should be noted that the full brunt of range of negative policy changes, ranging from cuts to the Feed in Tariff, closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind and solar, reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive, removal of Levy Exemption Certificates, and cuts to Embedded Benefits payments are not fully reflected in this 2015/16 data. The REA anticipates these factors to also have a significantly negative impact on 2016/17 jobs, turnover, and company number data.

Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “It shows real progress that there were nearly 126,000 jobs in renewable energy in 2015/16. This is in addition to over 16,000 in energy storage and in electric vehicles, which is the first year we have reported on these sectors.

“What is deeply frustrating is that this growth could have been greater. Policy instability in Westminster has slowed growth. Our member companies are helping build a system that is reliable, low-carbon and more affordable than the previous one.

“There’s fierce competition to be at the fore of these new technologies internationally. Government action is needed to ensure the opportunity to be leaders in technologies such as energy storage and decentralised systems does not slip between our fingers.

“We are once again pleased to launch REView, our authoritative annual report on the renewable energy industry.”

Baroness Verma, former Energy Minister (Con) said: “The renewable energy sector is a large job creator for the UK and emerging economies alike, presenting significant opportunities for international trade. Technology costs are falling and there are now also great advances in energy storage and electric vehicles.

“The incoming UK government must remain committed to supporting clean technology development and the renewable energy sector. They must remain absolutely in support of the Paris Accord and show leadership on the world stage. There must be no weakening of UK resolve by our politicians and we must show that unlike others when we make a commitment we stick to it."

Peter Dickson, partner at Glennmont Partners and report sponsor said: “The cost of power globally from renewable sources has fallen, and the perceived risk of investment in conventional power has risen, to the extent that investors are now much more comfortable to invest in renewable power than in conventional power.”

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight.

Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association will be speaking about the impact of Brexit on bioenergy on the second day of the Bioenergy Insight & Expo 2017 conference. Come and see her speak.

Register now for Bioenergy Insight & Expo 2017 for two days of essential learning to network with experts, sharpen your bioenergy knowledge and improve your skills, on 4-5 October.

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