From the TUC

How more workers can produce less

28 Jan 2013, by in Environment

More people are in work in the UK, but as last week’s GDP figures show, the total value of goods and services we produce fell by 0.3% in the last quarter of 2012. The much hoped for ‘rebalancing’ of the economy is not taking place – as Duncan reported, manufacturing output is lower than in mid-2010. Yet in failing to invest in the high value supply chains of the green economy, we are missing out in productive job creation opportunities in  sectors that are driving jobs and GDP growth across the EU.

The EU’s wind energy industry is worth a highly valuable average of Euros 130,00 (£110,000) per employee. In the last ten years,its  direct productivity has grown by 3.13% annually. So why are we importing wind turbines?

EU Wind energy industry: productivity per employee, 2010

Contribution   to GDP, 2010, Euros

Full-time   equivalent employees

Productivity   per person: Euros

Direct   employment

17.6bn

135,863

129,620

Indirect   employment

14.8

102,292

144,875

The UK’s “green economy” broadly defined enjoyed a healthy £5 billion trade surplus in 2011-2012. But BIS figures show that the UK imported £6.8 billion of manufactured goods such as wind turbines, solar panels and alternative fuel vehicles which we should by now be making rather than importing. Few of the 4,100 wind turbines now operational in the UK were made here.

As Renewable UK pointed out in its evidence to the Energy Bill Committee, “Half a dozen turbine manufacturers committing between half a billion and a billion pounds in total to open factories in the UK, but the pledges remain pledges.” It’s just as the EWEA has warned: governments need to provide long-term policies to promote and maintain growth in the market, including a post-2020 energy policy with a binding renewables target for 2030 and a financial commitment to continued research and development.

Green Growth, from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), reported that the wind energy industry increased its contribution to EU GDP by 33% and created 30% more jobs between 2007 and 2010. The industry employs nearly 240,000 people, despite EU unemployment rising by 9.6% over the same period. These industries pay their taxes, too, the EWEA points out.