Already supporting 100,000 jobs, UK renewable energy sector is set for £64 billion of investment by 2020


Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association
Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association

The renewable energy industry in the UK has attracted almost £30 billion of private sector investment since 2010 – enabling the industry to sustain over 100,000 jobs in 2013 and deliver 4.2% of UK energy.

These are the findings of a new report REview – Renewable Energy View: 2014 – published by the UK Renewable Energy Association (REA).

REview, the most complete assessment to date of the UK renewable energy market, was formally launched last night by UK Energy Minister Greg Barker in the House of Commons.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) represents renewable energy producers and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK across power, heat, transport and renewable gas.

The Renewable Energy Association  (REA) is the largest renewable energy trade association in the UK, with approximately 1,000 members, ranging from major multinationals to sole traders.

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, REA, 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%. 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.

 “Clear, stable policies create the investment, jobs and growth in renewables that the UK needs. We urge the Government to learn the lessons from past experiences, such as solar FITs and biofuels uncertainty, and engage closely with industry to resolve outstanding uncertainties, such as State Aid rules and the details of CfDs.”

Analysis by the REA also shows  that renewable electricity generation has grown steadily, increasing on average by 20.3% year-on-year between 2009 and 2013.   If the policy framework remains supportive then it is likely that the Government’s ambition for 30% renewable electricity in 2020 can be achieved, with major contributions from wind, biomass, energy from waste and solar power.

Renewable heat generation has also grown steadily, increasing on average by 11.3% year-on-year between 2009 and 2012 (the last full year for which data are available). Growth will need to accelerate to an average 18% year-on-year between 2013 and 2020 if the Government’s ambition of 12% renewable heat by 2020 is to be achieved, with contributions coming mainly from biomass and heat pumps. 

Biofuel consumption has increased on average by 3.8% year-on-year between 2009 and 2013, although this growth has been erratic, with consumption actually decreasing in some years.   Without an improved policy framework, it is unlikely the Government will achieve its legally binding 2020 sub-target of 10% renewable transport.

Ronan O’Regan, Head of Renewable Energy at PwC, said: Our analysis highlights the mixed fortunes for investors in different forms of renewable energy.

“With recent historical investment dominated by renewable electricity, investment in renewable heat has been modest in comparison and this market requires a rapid scale up in investment levels if we are to achieve our overall 2020 renewable energy targets.

“In the renewable electricity market, while offshore wind continues to be the most invested in technology, the rise of the UK solar market from nowhere in 2010 to now over £2 billion a year of investment, has been a highlight.”

 On a regional basis, per capita investment in Scotland was more than twice that in England and three times than in Northern Ireland and Wales, reflecting the dominance of onshore wind in Scotland.

O’Regan added: “Overall, investment of circa £65 billion is required to meet Government’s deployment projections for renewable heat and electricity to 2020, which looks achievable based on current investment levels, although it will require clear ongoing policy support to ensure investors have the confidence to continue to invest.”

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