REA says Rudd needs new energy policies to sustain last year’s record renewables employment

solar power Clarke and Kennedy Glasgow PV installersThe renewable energy industries in the UK last year employed a record number of people, according to the Renewable Energy Association.

But the annual report from the REA – the biggest British trade body for the renewable energy sector – also warns that the impact of more than a dozen major policy changes by the UK government could detrimentally affect jobs in the sector going forward.

And the REA warned that the British Government needs new policies in order to meet the 2020 renewable energy targets, particularly in heat and transport.

The Review 2016 report –  produced in association with Innovas and KPMG –  is regarded as the authoritative annual industry publication on employment, investment, and deployment trends in the British  renewable energy industry.

This edition reveals growth in the deployment of renewable power and heat, but a decline in the consumption of renewable transport fuels. The report details record-setting employment levels in the renewable energy industry in 2015, and record overall levels of investment and energy consumption.

The report highlights that the repeated policy interventions by the British government are harming the UK’s position as a global leader, are slowing growth rates and are increasing the likelihood that legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets (RED targets for renewable power, heat and transport) will not be achieved. Other key findings of REView 2016 include:

  • The total sector market value 2014-15 (for renewable power, heat, and transport) was £15,913 million. This is an increase of £982 million, which represents a growth rate of 6.6%, slightly higher than the 6.1% seen from 2012/13 to 2013-14. Growth of the rest of the UK economy was around 2.5%
  • There were 116,788 people employed in the sector in 2014-15 -an overall increase of 4,760 people
  • Renewable energy supplied the UK with 22.3% of its power in 2015, 4.6% of its heat in 2014 and 3.2% of its transport fuels in 2015
  • Biomethane is emerging as a promising tool for decarbonising the gas grid, and has applications as a renewable transport fuel
  • The consumption of crop-based biodiesel has fallen to only 6% from a high of 84%
  • The rate of installation of grid-scale and behind-the-meter energy storage systems is anticipated to grow
  • Policy changes over the last twelve months are likely to have a negative impact on growth rates in 2016

In parallel, KPMG’s investment review concluded that the investment landscape is in transition after a ‘turbulent year’, but with attractive opportunities emerging that do not necessarily rely on subsidy incentives, and added:

“Major cost reductions in technologies such as solar and storage, allied with new business models to exploit the benefits they can provide to energy and balancing markets, offer promising investment prospects for the future both in the UK and internationally.”

Dr. Nina Skorupska
Dr. Nina Skorupska

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association, commented: “Last year was another record year for British renewables. Employment, investment, and deployment increased, while costs fell and the industry continued to mature. It was yet another year where the renewables industry outperformed UK growth rates.

“But the industry was blindsided this year with over a dozen sudden and severe policy changes, which we expect will be reflected in next year’s report.

“While many businesses have been left reeling and deployment has begun to slow, as an industry we will persevere, we will innovate, and we will continue to grow.”

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