The economic growth strategy outlined by Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this week has been welcomed by the renewables industry.
Cable set out a raft of measures to enable British industry to build on its competitive advantage over the next 20 years, including a new institution to help companies invest, an innovation and knowledge centre to boost the commercialisation of research and a £165 million boost for skills and training.
The Business Secretary also highlighted three specific sectors – of which energy is one – that need specific attention and support, with an industrial strategy for energy expected early next year.
“I am setting out a clear and ambitious vision, a commitment far beyond the usual political timescale that will continue to bear fruit decades later,” he told an audience at Imperial College, London on Tuesday. “It will give our businesses certainty, allow them to make their own plans, and know that the full weight of government is behind them.”
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcomed the comments as “helpful”, but urged the government to “join up” its renewable energy agenda with the need for jobs and growth.
The renewable energy sector had a turnover of £12.5 billion in 2010/11 and grew at a rate of 11% between 2009 and 2010 – far higher than GDP over the same period.
“This is a step forward by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but the Coalition Government could inspire the nation right now with a much bolder vision for jobs and growth right across the renewable energy sector,” says the REA’s head of external affairs Leonie Greene.
The REA estimates that some 400,000 highly diverse jobs will be needed to achieve the UK’s binding 2020 renewable energy targets, including engineers of which the UK has a serious shortage.
“Renewables can support a much bigger and broader vision for jobs and growth than we’ve seen so far from this government,” adds chief executive Gaynor Hartnell.
RenewableUK, the trade body representing the wind, wave and tidal energy sector, also welcomed the plans for long-term growth.
“The Business Secretary has voiced his clear commitment to the expansion of the renewable energy sector,” commented policy director Gordon Edge. “He has clearly grasped the scale of the enormous opportunity offered by the wind and marine energy industries to earn our way back to economic prosperity.”
For further information:
Green or growth is a false choice, says CBI (6-Jul)
European wind industry to boost growth and jobs, says EWEA (17-Apr)
Marine energy could net UK economy £76 billion by 2050 (3-May 2011)
Offshore wind could be worth £170 billion a year to UK economy (8-Apr 2011)
13 September 2012