From the TUC

Where’s the Green Banker?

10 Feb 2011, by in Environment

With 10% of our electricity now from renewable supplies, news that employment in renewables doubled to 10,000 jobs in the past three years signals the true jobs potential of this industry. Plans for a £700m wind farm off the Yorkshire coast were agreed a few days ago, the second boost this year for a green energy hub in the region, after Siemens chose  Hull as its proposed site for a wind turbine manufacturing plant.  But manufacturing is the key word: most of our installed wind turbines are made aboard. The Renewable UK report suggests just 750 jobs in renewables manufacture. Set against this challenge, quite why the Green Investment Bank is stuck in the slow lane is beyond comprehension.

Renewable UK reports 6,000 jobs in large scale onshore wind schemes, with 300 in manufacturing. Most employment (2,900 jobs) are in Planning and Development and construction (1,000). There are about 3,100 working in offshore wind projects. But again, only around 250 (7%) are in design and manufacture. Most employment is in Construction and Installation (41%), while  500 people work in  Operation and Maintenance activities. As for marine energy, where we are ahead of competitors,  of the 800 employees in the sector, the largest proportions are employed in Design and Manufacture (25%), and in Support Services. 

Offshore wind will make the single biggest contribution towards the UK Government’s target of 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. The UK offshore wind industry is now the largest in energy terms in the world – but not in manufacturing.  But the large-scale onshore wind turbine market is still dominated by manufacturing companies operating in Germany, Denmark and Spain, where growth in these countries’ domestic markets created substantial manufacturing opportunities, and in doing so created substantial economies of scale that made turbines manufactured in these countries very competitive in European export markets. 

There are lessons here for the Green Economy Road Map due this Spring. Domestic procurement and risk finance are key to our competitors’ successes. Whether the Green Investment Bank will arrive on time or with sufficient funds to support green manufacturing growth remains. The Business Secretary, in evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee this week,  said staff would “begin to be recruited next year”, investments would take place by 2013-14. Its seed capitalisation would be £1billion. That scale of ambition was challenged by EAC members. DECC estimates that the UK needs to invest £110 billion by 2020 to renew our energy resources. £109bn to go, then.

One Response to Where’s the Green Banker?

  1. Tacitus
    Feb 11th 2011, 8:36 am

    There can be little doubt tyeh UK needs to invest heavily in the Green economy. Equally, its beyond doubt we have a substantial army of labour available to move this forward.

    Unfortunately, this government is stuck ina rut where it believes the solution will lie in referring this army (and here I mean those who are currently jobless) to independent training providers, all at a huge expense to the country.

    These providers have little to no experience or knowledge of the green economy and have no expertise in providing staff to environmentally-friendly businesses.

    We are told of massive investment in wind turbines, buit where will the staff come from? We shouldn’t look to Serco, A4e, Working Links or Pertemps to be providing them – they are too busy dishing out CSCT cards, fork-lift truck licences and manual handling certificates.

    We need to dramatically review our potenytial for the future and this should include close liaison with the TUC to determine how many of the 2.5m unemployed people could be retrained to cater for an emerging green economy.