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A new survey of the Scottish renewable energy sector has highlighted fears that a sixth of the country's workforce will lose their jobs within the next 12 months, says Scottish Renewables, the country's renewable energy trade body.

Green Economy

1 In 6 Scottish Renewable Energy Jobs At Risk

A new survey of the Scottish renewable energy sector has highlighted fears that a sixth of the country’s workforce will lose their jobs within the next 12 months, says Scottish Renewables, the country’s renewable energy trade body.

A new survey of the Scottish renewable energy sector has highlighted fears that a sixth of the country’s workforce will lose their jobs within the next 12 months, says Scottish Renewables, the country’s renewable energy trade body.

The Scottish renewable energy trade body surveyed its members on employment levels and confidence over the next year, and found that respondents are predicting an average decrease in full-time equivalent jobs in Scotland of 16.9%. Specifically, Scottish Renewables asked its members the following question:

How many people (Full Time Equivalent) were employed in Scotland in your renewables business in February 2016 and February 2017, and how many do you anticipate will be employed in February 2018, under the current policy landscape?

The results showed that as of February of 2016 there were an average of 1942 employees. This increased to 2011 in February 2017, but respondents are predicting it will fall to 1670 by February of 2018.

Renewable energy employers were also asked about their confidence for the future of their particular business in Scotland over the coming 12 months, and the results were spread across the board. Only 6.52% considered the future to be very positive, while 41.3% thought it was ‘Quite positive’. The remaining respondents felt ‘Neutral’ (19.57%), ‘Quite negative’ (21.74%), and ‘Very negative’ (10.87%).

“These results show that changes to and closures of support schemes are having an impact on our members and on the numbers of employees within their businesses,” said Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables.

“The UK Government is rightly excited about the economic opportunities presented by the impacts of the global shift to low-carbon energy, but it’s really important we don’t forget about the jobs in our renewable energy sector today.

“Onshore wind and solar are the two cheapest forms of electricity, but ministers are refusing to allow them to access long-term contracts for power, which will result in a marked slowdown in investment and a decrease in employment, as our survey has suggested.”

When looking at the Scottish renewable energy sector as a whole, however, things take a much sharper negative turn. Only 2.17% of respondents considered the future to be ‘Very positive’, and only 15.22% considered it to be ‘Quite positive’. 41.3% of respondents considered things to be ‘Neutral’, but a significant 36.96% believed the future was ‘Quite negative’ (with the remaining 4.35% considering things to be ‘Very negative’).

“Renewables are the largest source of power in Scotland, providing enough energy to meet more than half of our electricity needs, and the sector currently employs around 21,000 people here,” Hogan added. “For Scotland’s renewable energy industry to continue providing jobs and ever-greater reductions in carbon emissions, government must act quickly to give companies the confidence they need to keep investing in our sector.”

The results of the survey were unsurprisingly greeted with some alarm and disappointment throughout Scotland’s renewable energy industry.

“These are worrying findings and underline the urgent need for the UK Government to clarify its plans to support renewables and the thousands of people now employed in the sector,” said WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.

“Scotland has incredible natural renewable energy resources, but if it is to maximise the economic opportunities on offer, the UK Government must provide energy companies with a clear route to market.

“However, given we’re part of the GB energy market, this is not just an issue for Scotland. As a net exporter of electricity, Scotland plays a key role in helping the whole of the UK in cutting its carbon emissions. If we are to be able to plug in to the cheapest and cleanest forms of power generation then it’s vital our political leaders north and south of the border do all they can to support renewables.”

 
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