UK wind energy employment rises 91%

By Isabella Kaminski

RenewableUK found that full-time employment in the wind energy sector rose 91% between 2007/8 and 2009/10, despite overall UK employment dropping 3.4% over the same period.

The study 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 report identifies 9200 FTE employees as working in the large-scale wind energy industries in 2009/10. A comparable study commissioned by RenewableUK from Bain & Company in 2008 recorded 4800 FTE employees in the sector for the 2007/8 period.

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

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, says: “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 increase in jobs has, to a large extent, mirrored the increase in electricity contributions from renewable sources, chiefly wind, to the grid.”

RenewableUK says the Government’s decision to continue with port investments in last year’s spending Review, followed by a host of inward investment decisions in the supply chain, will further boost employment in the sector in coming years. 

McCaffery says: “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.”