Renewable energy industry supports over 100,000 jobs, set for £64 billion of investment by 2020

Renewable Energy Association







The renewable energy industry has attracted almost £30 billion of private sector investment since 2010. This investment has enabled 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 published yesterday (Wednesday 30th April) by the REA: REview – Renewable Energy View: 2014[1].

REview features analysis on:

  • The growth of renewables in the energy mix, by the REA
  • Jobs and turnover in the renewable energy industry, by Innovas
  • Investment in renewable energy projects, by PwC.

REview builds on the REA’s 2012 report Renewable Energy: Made in Britain, the first industry-wide analysis of employment in the UK renewable energy industry. REview, the most complete assessment to date of the UK renewable energy market, will be formally launched this evening by Energy Minister Greg Barker in the House of Commons.

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

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%. 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.”

Deployment: renewable energy is keeping lights on, homes warm and cars moving

Analysis by the REA reveals 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.

Employment: jobs down since 2011 due to policy changes, but new job growth expected

Analysis by Innovas reveals that:

  • 103,000 people were employed across the UK renewable energy value chain in 2012/13.
  • In 2010/11, at the height of the growth in small scale solar power, the REA estimated that there were 25,000 jobs in solar power, and 110,000 jobs in renewables overall. On this basis, there were 7,000 fewer jobs in renewables overall in 2012/13 than in 2010/11.
    • This is mainly due to job losses in the small scale solar industry (down by approximately 10,000), partially offset by continued job creation in the wind industry (up by approximately 4,000).
    • It is 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 subsequent years. Innovas expects between 110,000 and 124,000 jobs in three years’ time.
  • Turnover in the renewable energy industry stood at £14 billion in 2012/13, up £1.5 billion from 2010/11.

John Sharp, Director of Innovas, said:

“The renewable energy sector continues to grow steadily, which is particularly welcome at a time when there have been many challenges to the UK economy and when energy security issues are coming to the fore again. None of this growth should be taken for granted as the recent changes in the levels of support for the solar PV sector have shown.

“What is encouraging is that much of the growth is being felt in the UK regions outside of the South East, anchoring jobs in regions and rural areas where good quality long term employment prospects in the renewable energy sector are contributing to improvements in the economic, social and community wellbeing of these areas.”

Investment: supportive policy framework makes the UK an attractive destination for investment

Analysis by PwC reveals that:

  • £29.8 billion was invested in UK renewables between 2010 and 2013, of which:
    • £27.7 billion was invested in renewable electricity
    • £1.4 billion was invested in renewable heat (up to 2012, the last full year for which data are available)
    • £0.7 billion was invested in renewable transport fuel production.
  • £64.4 billion is expected to be invested in renewables by 2020 in order to achieve Government projections for renewable electricity and heat.
    • £40.8 billion is expected to be invested in renewable electricity between 2014 and 2020.
    • £23.6 billion is expected to be invested in renewable heat between 2013 and 2020.

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.

“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.”

The report also features commentary pieces and case studies from across the renewable energy industry to give readers an impression of what it is like doing business in this exciting sector of the UK’s growing green economy. Contributors range from renewable energy specialists to major organisations integrating renewables into their business operations, such as Siemens Financial Services and Tesco.

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