The renewable energy industry supports 110,000 jobs in the UK and could support 400,000 by 2020, a report says.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consultants Innovas conclude that the industry is worth £12.5bn per year to the UK economy. Last week the European Commission said low-carbon generation and energy efficiency could generate five million jobs across the EU by 2020.
The report follows two opinion polls showing public support for renewables. The REA says its report, which will be formally launched on Tuesday, is the first comprehensive analysis of the economic and employment benefits of the UK industry.
“Harnessing our renewables creates employment, and means that rather than spending money on energy imports we can keep it circulating in the UK economy,” said REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell.
The renewables sector grew by 11% between 2009/10 and 2010/11, compared with overall UK growth of just 1.4%. The report also calculates that renewables generated exports of just under £1.6bn in 2010/11, with wind technologies the biggest contributor.
In the last few days, two opinion polls have demonstrated public backing for renewables. A YouGov survey found 64% of UK adults (88% in Scotland) wanting renewables to provide the bulk of new generation capacity installed between now and 2020.
An Ipsos-Mori poll turned up a similarly sized majority in favour of wind power, and public backing for the current level of UK wind power subsidy (about 2p per day).