Research indicates that employment in Scotland’s renewables sector surged by over 50% in 2021, as reported by the Fraser of Allander Institute. The study reveals a notable increase in jobs, totalling 42,000, compared to the previous year’s 27,000. While onshore and offshore wind remain the primary drivers of this growth, there has also been a substantial rise in employment related to home heating.
Scottish Renewables highlights the expanding economic significance of the sector, with offshore wind emerging as the predominant source of employment along many coastlines. Major projects such as Moray East, the Kincardine wind farm and Seagreen off Angus, have contributed significantly to this shift, pushing onshore wind into second place. The third-largest job contributor now revolves around heating homes through technologies like heat pumps.
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Due to the lack of reliable government statistics reflecting the industry’s expansion, the industry body commissioned the research. While acknowledging a margin of error in the findings, there is a collective call for more robust official data gathering.
Construction plays a pivotal role, hosting the largest number of roles contingent on the continuous growth of renewables projects. Claire Mack, CEO of Scottish Renewables, emphasises the renewable energy industry’s status as Scotland’s most significant economic opportunity. She mentions the industry’s commitment to showcasing its positive impact on both Scotland and the wider UK economies during the transition to a net-zero future.
The report further underscores the economic output of the renewable energy industry and its supply chain, surpassing £10 billion in 2021—almost double the previous year’s figure of £5.6 billion. Anticipated growth in future years is expected to be substantial, especially with the burgeoning expansion of offshore wind.
The recent leasing round of the seabed by Crown Estates Scotland, which awarded 17 additional licenses covering 7,000 square km, is projected to propel offshore wind capacity from 1.9GW in 2022 to an impressive 25GW.
Professor Mairi Spowage, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, highlights the report’s revelation of the significant contribution renewables make to Scotland’s economy. She emphasises the potential for technological development, new export markets and prosperity in rural areas transitioning away from fossil fuels.