The number of UK jobs associated with renewable energy has dropped since 2011 thanks partly to solar feed-in tariff cuts, according to new analysis of the industry. However, the same report predicts a new jobs boost over the next few years.
Review – Renewable Energy View: 2014 is a joint report by the Renewable Energy Association, business consultancy Innovas and professional services firm PwC.
Analysis by Innovas shows that 103,000 were employed across the ‘UK renewable energy value chain’ in 2012/13, 7,000 fewer than in 2010/11.
The report says this is mainly due to job losses in the small-scale solar industry, partially offset by job creation in wind. However, it’s expected that recent growth in anaerobic digestion and large-scale solar power, along with anticipated growth in renewable heating, will boost job numbers above 2010/11 levels in the next few years.
Analysis by the REA points to a steady growth in renewable electricity generation, increasing on average by 20.3 per cent year on year between 2009 and 2013. The REA says if the policy framework “remains supportive”, the government’s ambition for 30 per cent renewable electricity in 2020 can be achieved.
But although the analysis showed renewable heat generation has also grown steadily, increasing on average by 11.3 per cent year on year between 2009 and 2012 (the last year full for which data are available), the organisation says growth will need to accelerate to an average 18 per cent year on year between 2013 and 2020 to achieve the government’s ambition of 12 per cent renewable heat by 2020.
And it’s unlikely the legally binding target of 10 per cent renewable transport will be achieved without a better policy framework, the REA argues.
REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “This report highlights the close relationship between clear, stable policies and sustained growth and jobs in the renewable energy industry.
“The government’s renewable electricity policies have incentivised nearly £28 billion of private investment since 2010, achieving annual growth rates of over 20 per cent. The world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive is also beginning to spur positive growth in green heating. This is a tremendous success story.
“This positive message also comes with a warning. Drastic feed-in tariff cuts in 2011/12 led to widespread job losses in the solar industry, and the continued policy uncertainty for renewable transport has seen employment and investment opportunities in UK refineries go begging.”