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UK report finds renewable energy investment will deliver more jobs than fossil fuels

A new report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has stated that investment in renewables can generate three times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels. Renewable energy can create three times as many jobs per million pounds invested compared to gas or coal while investing in energy efficiency can generate five times as many. The new study comes when oil and gas prices have escalated due to the impacts of Russia invading Ukraine, rising energy prices and the drive to improve energy security in the UK. 

Some government members have said improving energy security is best achieved by increasing the production of fossil fuel resources in the UK. Environmental and climate groups are urging the government to focus on renewables and enhance buildings to tackle the climate challenge and the rising living costs. 

The report by the UKERC explores employment challenges and opportunities developing with the intended transition to net-zero and explains that the results indicate that investing in a movement to net-zero and reducing the dependence on natural gas will boost the number of available jobs. Supporting renewables or energy efficiency can create more jobs for the same investment in other energy sources like natural gas. 

Based on the findings, the report has called for the government to focus on developing the skills and supply chain required to deliver a nationwide energy efficiency program and a transition to renewables and low-carbon heating. With over 19 million UK properties requiring energy performance improvements, significant job opportunities are available in energy efficiency and low-carbon heating.

The Government-backed Green Jobs Taskforce believes the skills gap will extend with the anticipated growth of the UK’s offshore wind industry and the necessity to improve and expand electricity networks to meet the growing demand for renewable energy. 

As part of the UK’s net-zero strategy, the government launched a target for investment to generate up to 440,000 jobs by 2030 across net-zero industries. Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of people working in renewables and low-carbon industries had remained relatively similar between 2015 and 2020.

While the government has announced targets on how many people are required in selected industries, there remains a lack of strategy for addressing the skills shortages expected in the transition to net-zero. 

A clear and structured strategy on how many people need to be trained in which areas and by what time to achieve our intended goals. For example, the government has a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028 but data suggest approximately 2,000 full-time professionals are working in heat pump installation and maintenance in the UK. In reality, tens of thousands of individuals are needed to reach the installation target set by the government. One key reason why heat pump installer figures remain relatively low is due to energy efficiency in buildings receiving little funding in the last few years. 

Despite the need to accelerate job opportunities, there are notable improvements and reports highlight that green jobs are emerging but some industry experts believe it requires further structure and ensuring people are receiving the necessary training and opportunities in the right industries and locations. A representative for the department of business, energy and industrial strategy stated that 56,000 green industry jobs were created in the last year.

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