New figures from the UK government reveal that an estimated 234,000 full-time equivalent employees were working directly for low-carbon and renewable energy activities in 2015.
These are the results from the latest UK Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey (UK LCRE) published this week by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the year 2015, providing a detailed look at the low-carbon and renewable energy economy in the UK.
The survey also found that LCRE activities generated a total £43.1 billion turnover in 2015, accounting for 1.3% of the UK’s non-financial turnover. The renewable energy sectors generated £14.9 billion in turnover in 2015, accounting for 34.7% of all LCRE turnover. Meanwhile, the energy efficiency products sector generated £13.9 billion in turnover and accounted for almost half of all LCRE employment, with 102,500 full-time equivalent jobs.
Looking at the renewable energy sector more specifically, the UK’s bioenergy sector accounted for the largest proportion of the sector’s turnover, 34.9% in total. The solar sector generated £3.2 billion, or 7.3% of all LCRE turnover in 2015, and employed a total of 16,000, or 6.8%. Meanwhile, the offshore wind and onshore wind sectors accounted for 5.1% and 6.7% of all LCRE turnover respectively, and employed 1.3% and 3.4% of all LCRE full-time equivalent jobs.
Contribution of the solar and wind sectors to the UK low carbon and renewable energy economy
The figures were also good news for Scotland, highlighting just how important the country is to the UK’s overall LCRE sector. While obviously England’s renewable energy sector generated larger figures overall — a total of £11.3 billion in turnover and 31,500 jobs — due to its larger population base and geographical area, Scotland really overperformed with £2.7 billion in turnover and 14,500 jobs. To put that into perspective, England has a population of just over 53 million, while Scotland only has a population of 5.2 million.
In the end, Scotland’s renewable energy sector generated almost half of all LCRE turnover generated in the country in 2015, with more than half of this turnover being generated by the onshore wind sector.
Proportion of low carbon and renewable energy economy turnover and employment accounted for by the renewable energy group, UK and UK country
“These new figures once again clearly show the important economic impact of Scotland’s renewable energy sector,” said Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables. “Technologies like wind, hydro, renewable heat and solar are delivering significant levels of employment and investment across the country and it’s crucial that renewed ambitions for the sector, set out in Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy, are complemented by the right support from government, both at Westminster and in Edinburgh.”
“It’s fantastic to see the number of renewable and low-carbon jobs continuing to rise in Scotland,” added WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.
“This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support. If Scotland is to secure all the benefits that a zero-carbon society would bring, it’s vital Scottish ministers continue to put in place the policies and support mechanisms needed as well as giving businesses the signals they need to commit to investment and skills training.
“These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs. It’s therefore disappointing that the UK Government has ended its support for onshore wind, especially if that results in these jobs figures going down in future. Undermining onshore wind in Scotland will make it far more expensive for the entire UK to meet its climate change obligations.”