SSE raises concerns over renewables jobs

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POWER company SSE and trade union Unite have warned that thousands of jobs could be put at risk by uncertainty over UK government plans for a major shake-up of the energy market.

The Perth-based utility said there was a risk of an investment gap over the ending of the current subsidy scheme for developers, the Renewable 
Obligation (RO), and the start of a new Contract for Difference system.

Unite said that five manufacturing plants which major global players - including Gamesa and Siemens - had pledged to build in the UK to supply 
offshore wind projects could be put at risk if there were delays.

Gamesa announced last year plans to invest £125 million in a plant in Leith which could create more than 800 jobs. French firm Areva has also signed an agreement to locate a factory in Scotland, creating 750 jobs.

Keith MacLean, SSE’s policy and research director, said there was a risk of investment in major renewables projects “falling off a cliff for two years, at least”. He said the government should guarantee developers access to the RO until the market had sufficient confidence in the new system.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said there would be no gap between the two subsidy schemes, and that interim arrangements would also be available for developers.

“The UK has one of the most generous subsidy regimes in the world for renewables, and is one of the best places to invest in offshore wind,” she said.