Wind employment doubles

Posted on 1 Feb 2011 by The Manufacturer

Full-time employment in the wind power industry has gone up 91% in three years, according to a study published by RenewableUK.

This sustainable level of growth in employment is in stark contrast with the overall UK unemployment level, which shrunk by 3.4 per cent over the same period (from 2007/8 to 2009/10).

Maria McCaffery MBE, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “This sector has withstood the negative GDP growth of the UK recession and bucked the overall employment trend in a spectacular way by a near doubling of the workforce.”

The report was jointly commissioned by RenewableUK and EU Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the Power Sector, from Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research (IER) and Cambridge Econometrics.

The findings are based on primary data collected from 253 companies operating in the wind and marine energy sectors. Of the 10,800 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees working directly in the sectors, 56 per cent are associated with large-scale onshore wind (turbine output of over 100kW), followed by 29 per cent in offshore wind, whilst 7–8 per cent is employed in small-scale wind and around the same proportion in wave and tidal energy.

The report identifies 9,200 FTE employees as working in the large-scale wind energy industries in 2009/10. A similar study commissioned by RenewableUK from Bain & Company in 2008 recorded 4,800 FTE employees for the 2007/8 period.

With the Government’s intention to keep investing in ports and a host of inward investment decisions in the supply chain (including Siemens’ recent decision to locate major turbine manufacturing plants in the UK), employment in the wind sector is poised to grow further in the coming years.

McCaffery continued: “It is now obvious that acting decisively on reducing carbon emissions and diversifying our energy supply will bring a double bonanza of increased green energy yields and economic growth. This study presents a compelling case for increasing our base of installed renewable energy devices. There is a clear link between sector activity and UK employment gains. Creating a policy framework that ensures that our wind, wave and tidal resources are fully utilised will create jobs and stimulate economic activity at a time when we need it most.”

As its pre-Budget submission, RenewableUK will publish a second part of the report next month. It will include an analysis of potential UK employment in the sector by 2020 according to a range of industry development scenarios.