Renewables and jobs

Some big claims for renewable jobs and investment, but we have heard similar claims in the past that have not materialised.

The EU has unveiled a new action plan for the ocean energy sector. A European Commission spokesman said: “Ocean energy has the potential to create new, high-quality jobs. Indicative job estimates show that 10,500 – 26,500 permanent jobs, and up to 14,000 temporary jobs, could be created by 2035. Other estimates suggest that it could lead to the creation of up to 20,000 jobs by 2035 in UK alone and 18,000 in France by 2026.”

It should be noted that these are ‘indicative’ numbers for what is a fledgling industry.

Meanwhile, statistics showed that investment by developers in Scotland’s offshore wind industry had plummeted to £28.9 million last year – down from £63.6m in 2012. Scottish Renewables, blamed the slump on the failure of planning authorities to approve wind farms and uncertainty surrounding the industry.

Lindsay Leask, senior policy manager for Scottish Renewables said: “Uncertainty throughout the industry is growing as none of the major projects planned for Scottish waters has had their planning applications determined yet, and the details around accessing market incentives are still unclear. With around 5 gigawatts of potential offshore wind development in planning – enough to meet the annual demand of 3 million homes – we can’t afford to see these projects, and the investment decisions related to them, left in limbo. Scotland has all the ingredients to develop a world leading offshore wind industry.”

However, Murdo Fraser MSP pointed out that offshore wind was in decline because it was 50% more expensive. He said “at a time when there is so much public concern about rising energy bills, it’s not surprising that very high-cost energy sources such as offshore wind are coming under greater question.”

Another approach is community energy projects. About 5,000 community energy groups have been set up to exploit subsidies and the UK government want to use similar incentives to promote fracking in England. Anna Watson, a Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, said: “Community energy projects offer local people the chance to power their homes and businesses with clean British energy – helping to tackle climate change. Community energy offers a long-lasting solution to price hikes from Britain’s Big Six [energy suppliers], and pumps money back into local areas.”

So we have the ‘potential’ of ocean energy, declining offshore wind and community energy. I still don’t see a lot of actual new jobs!

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