The ability of renewable energy to transform Scotland’s economy is highlighted in a new report. Statistics compiled by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute show that 22,660 jobs are already supported by green energy in Scotland.
It’s the first time figures have been published which show the economic reach of Scotland’s renewable energy sector.
Onshore wind is Scotland’s biggest renewables employer (8,780 full-time equivalent employment), followed by offshore wind (4,700) and hydropower (3,290).
The renewable energy industry, which now provides the equivalent of 97% of Scotland’s electricity consumption, also supports output of £5.2 billion a year in Scotland.
This report also shows the significant impact renewable energy industry has on other parts of Scotland’s economy. It supports almost 3,000 jobs in construction and 2,200 jobs in manufacturing.
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The renewable energy industry is now recognised as a vital part of Scotland’s economy and is delivering the equivalent of almost all the country’s electricity consumption.
Armed with this data we can now begin the process of mapping the industry’s growth as it takes a central place in the recovery from coronavirus
“These new figures show not just the number of people employed by our members and others, but also the reach of the industry into other parts of the economy.
“Armed with this data we can now begin the process of mapping the industry’s growth as it takes a central place in the recovery from coronavirus and, of course, as we deploy more of the energy generation technology needed to meet our 2045 net-zero carbon emissions target.”
The new figures also show the renewable energy technologies which produce the highest outputs. Top of that table is onshore wind (£2.4 billion), followed by hydropower (£915 million) and offshore wind (£889 million). Those three technologies alone support output of £772 million every year in other parts of the economy.
Scotland’s renewable energy sector is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years, driven by the ambition to increase the amount of offshore wind deployed in Scottish waters almost tenfold, from 1GW today to 11GW by 2030.
Other boosts to the sector include the reinstatement of onshore wind in the UK Government’s energy auction process, older sites now reaching the end of their lives and requiring upgrades with new, more efficient turbines and a rapid expansion of low-carbon heat technologies such as heat pumps and district heating networks.
Our industry is a victim of a lack of contemporary thinking when it comes to measuring the way the UK economy operates
The report was commissioned by Scottish Renewables, frustrated by having to rely on old data for too long.
A blog on the Scottish Renewables website states: ‘’Our industry is a victim of a lack of contemporary thinking when it comes to measuring the way the UK economy operates…’’
The UK National Accounts, for instance, aim to detail transactions of different sectors to show how ‘’the income from production is distributed and redistributed’’. But renewable energy is not counted among those sectors.
Surely the UK isn’t trying to play down the economic performance of sectors in which Scotland excels and in which it has the greatest potential.