Scottish renewables on a roll – but still second to Yorkshire

MORE than £300 million has been invested in green energy in Scotland over the past financial year, creating almost 2,500 jobs, according to a new UK Government report.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has highlighted the economic benefits of the renewables sector to Scotland, saying that another £6m of investment and 50 jobs are in the pipeline.

In the report “Renewables Investment and Jobs”, which looked at the period from April to November 2011, Decc found that across the UK as a whole companies had announced plans for £2.46bn investment in renewable energy projects, with the potential to create almost 12,000 jobs across the country. Scotland’s share was £315.5m and 2,422 jobs.

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Only Yorkshire had attracted more investment than Scotland, with £469m and the potential for 2,501 jobs. In contrast, Northern Ireland had just £155m and 580 jobs and the East Midlands £116m and 80 jobs.

Chris Huhne, UK energy secretary, said: “Renewable energy is not just helping us increase our energy security and reduce our emissions. It is supporting jobs and growth across the country, and giving traditional industrial heartlands the opportunity to thrive again.”

Among investments announced in the past year highlighted in the report were deep sea fishing company Research Fishing Company and tug boat operating company Delta Marine joining forces to invest over £10m in renewable support vessels.

Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa decided to build an Offshore Wind Technology Centre in Glasgow, creating up to 130 jobs. And Helius Energy announced it was awarding £44m of contracts for a 7.2MW biomass plant, creating up to 120 jobs.

However, trade body Scottish Renewables questioned the accuracy of the report, saying Decc had missed several big investments which would have put the figures much higher for Scotland.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “This is only a small amount of the investment and jobs created in renewables over the last seven months, and the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is to come.”

A Scottish Renewables report last month showed £750 million of new renewable electricity projects started generating in Scotland over the past year. The report stated that there is a pipeline of 17 gigawatts of renewable electricity projects worth an estimated 46 billion pounds.

Mr Stuart added: “Scotland is punching well above its weight in attracting investment and creating new employment and apprenticeship opportunities for communities across the country. With continued public and political support we can ensure these are sustainable benefits for many years to come.”

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Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said the level of investment was “very good news”.

“We need lots of renewables to help us tackle climate change and of course Scotland is particularly well endowed in terms of renewables of many different sorts. The investment could of course quite easily go somewhere else if we didn’t have support from both the UK and Scottish governments.”

Jennifer Webber, RenewableUK’s director of external affairs said: “At a time when other sectors of the economy are struggling and people are losing their jobs, the wind industry is bucking the trend and creating employment.”

The Scottish Government has previously predicted that 60,000 new jobs could be created in the clean energy sector over the next decade.