Turnover of £50bn could be created by renewable energy by 2020, according to a report by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and Innovas. Launched today by climate change minister Greg Barker, Made in Britain estimates that nearly 300,000 extra sustainable energy jobs need to be created in the next decade to meet the EU target of 15% of UK energy generated by renewable sources by 2020.
However, all is not as straightforward as it first seems. Innovas’ conservative estimate for projected turnover (based on historical performance) is £24bn. Just half of the figure touted by the REA, which believes a directly proportional relationship between jobs created and money generated is a more accurate picture.
Only if the UK reaches its EU target can this £50bn of revenue materialise. At the moment, just 3% of energy used in Britain comes from renewable sources. This does not compare particularly favourably with the European average of 12% and the global average of 16%. Most EU member states intend to surpass their 15% goal by 2020, raising the stakes further for Britain.
The task for industry and government was set out by Greg Barker MP this morning. He said: “Today’s report from the REA and Innovas is a big step forward in raising the visibility of the sector and raising the level of ambition that collectively we need to have for British manufacturers of renewables.”
Barker made the case for continued investment and government support adding that renewable energy sources are: “… a key element in terms of our ambitions to rebalance the British economy away from an overdependence on the South East and away from an overdependence on the service sector. The reindustrialisation of the British economy is totally compatible with a low carbon future.”
Although the report raised questions about the struggle the sector may face to reach targets and achieve the possible turnover, it outlined an approach for growth detailing what must change. It cited poor levels of support in Whitehall and Westminster; major economic benefits not being emphasised and a major skills shortage: ‘At the high-skills end of the renewable energy sector we face a demographic time bomb. More care is needed to provide clear career entry paths for young people, unemployed people and those transferring from traditional energy industries.’
Business development director at Rexel UK Brian Smithers said: “If renewables are to provide 400,000 jobs by 2020, the skills "time bomb" highlighted by the REA must be addressed now. A national strategy for renewable energy skills would be an important step forward, but it's crucial that the industry doesn't leave the ball in government's court. Businesses also need to invest in training and education programmes to ensure that they are sharing their knowledge and expertise.”
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