Comprehensive net-zero strategy could increase UK green jobs by 85%
The UK Government can deliver an 85% increase in renewable and clean technology jobs in a decade by implementing better taxation systems and outlining a roadmap for net-zero emissions, a new report from the REA has found.
The REA’s Achieving net-zero: mapping the growth of the UK’s energy transition report found that employment in the renewables and clean technology industry stood at 128,954 in 2017/18 but could grow to 238,000 by 2030 if the UK Government can implement more enabling green policies.
The report found that the renewable energy sector was estimated to be worth £18.8bn during the timeframe, which in turn delivered an increase of 1,844 jobs and £867m in market value since 2016. However, this growth mask “significant falls” in the solar PV sector due to the closure of support mechanisms such as the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs). If policy cuts to green legislation had not occurred in 2016, the REA estimates that an additional 14,700 jobs and £3.44bn in investment may have been generated.
The REA also estimated that up to 140,000 jobs across solar, wind, storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging markets could be added, alongside an additional 100,000 bioenergy jobs, if the UK Government can deliver favourable policy changes.
The REA’s chief executive Nina Skorupska said: “This report highlights the enormous opportunities the renewables and clean technology industry holds for the UK. One of the advantages of our industry is that it covers the lengths and breadths of the country, as such its benefit can be felt throughout the UK.
"With the Government’s commitment to achieving Net-Zero by 2050, we can see that there is political will, however, this needs to be backed up by policy for the renewable energy and clean technology sector. This report provides the Government with that insight, and we are calling on them to deliver this urgently ahead of COP 26.”
The REA is calling for the Government to deliver a “comprehensive decarbonisation strategy” for the net-zero ambition, which would include more effective taxation systems that promotes renewable energy and clean technologies. The group has also asked for natural capital protection to be prioritised.
In particular, the REA wants the Net-Zero Strategy to include a “funded and measurable” roadmap that would deliver wholesale decarbonisation across all sectors with a particular focus on heat, power and transport. The group also wants assurances that the new Office for Environmental Protection will have strong enforcement capabilities.
Of the potential new jobs, the report found that 46,000 jobs are expected to be in the north of England, which is currently home to a number of carbon-intensive job clusters.
Last month, BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total signed up to spearhead the development of the Net-Zero Teesside project, for example, that aims to develop the UK's first decarbonised industrial cluster through the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS). Research suggests that Net-Zero Teesside will deliver £450m in annual benefits to the area and support up to 5,500 direct jobs.
The Government is aiming to establish the “world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030”, as part of the Industrial Clusters Mission. It opened two innovation funds in October aimed at helping businesses located in key industrial clusters to plan and deploy technology to help reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Up to £140m could then be accessed by successful applicants.
The report also provides updates on the UK’s performance against the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) targets for 2020, which requires the UK to ensure that renewable electricity, heat and transport contribute to the UK’s objective of 15% renewable energy by 2020.
The latest figures found that the UK has surpassed a fourth interim target of 10.2% renewable energy, with renewables making up 11% of the total energy consumed in 2018 overall. Renewable heat also saw generation increase by 11% in 2018.