Renewable energy supports £10bn output, 42,000 jobs

A new report from the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) think tank has revealed that Scotland’s renewable energy industry and its supply chain supported more than 42,000 jobs and generated over £10.1 billion of output in 2021.

“Using the latest data available, our report finds that for the first time offshore wind is the renewable energy technology supporting the most employment across the Scottish economy with 15,005 full time equivalent (FTE) roles while onshore wind supports 12,030 roles and renewable heat 7,220 roles,” said the FAI.

“Offshore wind also powered the most activity across the Scottish economy, generating more than £4 billion, followed by onshore wind with £3.4 billion and hydropower with £1.2 billion.

“We also assessed the impact of the renewable energy sector and its spill-over benefits on Scotland’s supply chain and economy.

“The renewable energy sector is not currently defined in national statistics published by either the UK or Scottish Governments, so the size of the sector has been estimated using data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).”

Scottish Renewables CEO Claire Mack said: “The renewable energy industry is the biggest economic opportunity we have in Scotland so it is really encouraging to see the Fraser of Allander Institute’s report reflect the positive impact our sector is having on jobs and economic output.

“While our members continue to focus on delivering the projects we will need to meet our climate ambitions, as an industry we want to clearly demonstrate how we are benefiting not only Scotland’s but the UK’s economies as we transition to a net-zero future.

“To do this we urgently need much more robust data collection to understand how the renewable energy industry is performing and evolving across the UK.

“The UK and Scottish Governments urgently need to enable better data to be collected on the renewable energy sector that will support transparency and accountability as our industry moves towards reaching its economic and environmental targets as part of a just energy transition.”

Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Renewable energy generation will be the foundation of any net-zero economy. Similarly, we also know how important renewable energy is to help secure energy security and reduce the harmful impacts of fuel poverty in the years to come.

“Our latest report shows the significant contribution that renewables make to Scotland’s economy.

“These opportunities include the potential for technological development, new export markets and prosperity for rural parts of Scotland that may otherwise be left behind in the transition away from fossil fuels.

“However, these opportunities do not provide prosperity in themselves. As Scotland positions itself as a leader in sustainable development it is important that government and industry can collaborate on establishing robust data to assess progress to ensure that Scotland fully leverages its renewable potential.”

Scottish Renewables and the Fraser of Allander Institute have published annual reports on the economic impact of renewable energy in Scotland for the last three years.

There has been a significant increase in the figures this year which can be primarily attributed to a substantial surge in the ONS figures for offshore wind turnover in 2021.

The most prominent impact of this higher figure can be seen in the construction sector — which may be attributed to the industry’s recovery from the downturn experienced in 2020 amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.