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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

UK Renewables Industry Stunted by Tory Energy Policy

The UK’s renewable energy industry, including heat, power, and transport, employed a record 125,940 people in the financial year-end April 2016. However, the number of jobs grew by only 2.5% between 2014-15 and 2015-16, a significant decline in growth from two years previously when growth was at nearly 9%.

The REView is published with employment data from independent consultancy Innovas and investment data and analysis by KPMG. Key points include:

  • For the first time data has been compiled on employment in energy storage and electric vehicles, clean tech sectors which employ 16,256 people

  • Renewable energy industry turnover of £17,400 million in 2015/16, a growth of 3.5% on the previous year

  • The number of companies operating in renewable energy has fallen by 5%, largely due to a significant contraction in the solar PV market which has declined to 2011-12 levels

  • The industry turnover has averaged annual 6% growth since 2012-13

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) said that employment and turnover growth has slowed significantly, due to the over 15 negative policy changes by the UK Government since the 2015 General Election.

In addition, the full brunt of range of negative UK Government policy changes, ranging from cuts to the Feed in Tariff, closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind and solar, reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive, removal of Levy Exemption Certificates, and cuts to Embedded Benefits payments are not fully reflected in this 2015-16 data.

The REA anticipates these factors to also have a significantly negative impact on 2016-17 jobs, turnover, and company number data.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, commented:

“It shows real progress that there were nearly 126,000 jobs in renewable energy in 2015-16, in addition to over 16,000 in energy storage and in electric vehicles. “What is deeply frustrating is that this growth could have been greater. Policy instability in Westminster has slowed growth. Our member companies are helping build a system that is reliable, low-carbon and more affordable than the previous one.

“There’s fierce competition to be at the fore of these new technologies internationally. Government action is needed to ensure the opportunity to be leaders in technologies such as energy storage and decentralised systems does not slip between our fingers.”

Simon Virley, Head of Power and Utilities at KPMG said:

"Renewables have reached a tipping point globally.

“If solar and storage costs continue to fall, then these technologies will soon be able to provide reliable low carbon power cheaper than that supplied by the grid in many countries."

Kenneth Gibson added:

“In Scotland the renewables industry has benefitted from strong support and policy consistency from the SNP Government. However, energy is reserved to the UK and the chopping and changing of ministers combined with some 15 negative policy changes continues to slow an industry that should be soaring.

“Even the short-sighted Tories should look again at the renewables industry and look at the simple steps it could take to boost the industry, all of which can be explained to them by the REA” ENDS

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