Renewable Energy: Made in Britain,’ a ground-breaking new report from the REA  and Innovas, leaders in the low carbon economy field, will be launched tomorrow, on the eve of the Clean Energy Ministerial Summit . REA and the report sponsors will hear from Energy Minister Greg Barker at the launch, which will take place at the award-winning headquarters of Renewable Energy Systems .
This report marks the first time that the turnover and employment figures of the entire UK renewables sector have been quantified and brought together in one place. The report finds that in 2010/11, the UK renewables industry was worth £12.5 billion and supported 110,000 jobs, with 400,000 in total required to meet the 2020 renewables targets . The report also reveals:
These findings come just days after the European Commission identified the green economy as a “key sector” offering “important job creation potential,” with renewables alone claimed to provide up to 3 million jobs across the EU to 2020 . Just today, Friends of the Earth revealed results of a survey which found that “85 per cent of Brits would like to see the Government increasing the use of clean British energy and reducing the use of overseas gas” .
Launching the report, REA Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell said:
“Harnessing our renewables creates employment and means that rather than spending money on energy imports we can keep it circulating in the UK economy. Government needs to take steps to build the skills base and keep the UK on track to meet its renewables targets. When it comes to the employment, economic and energy challenges we face, the answer is clear - make it renewable and make it in Britain.”
Gregory Barker, Minister of State for Climate Change, said:
“Renewable energy not only provides us with clean and secure energy that cuts our reliance on imported fossil fuels - it generates billions of pounds of investment and potentially hundreds and thousands of jobs and is a key growth sector for the UK economy.
“The REA’s report sets out plainly the opportunities and challenges in this area. We are determined to seize the momentum and secure maximum benefit for the UK.”
Will Hutton, former editor-in-chief of the Observer and Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, said in the report’s foreword:
“There is another revolution in the making: come what may business and society need diverse and resilient sources of energy that are independent from the political and geological vagaries of fossil fuels.”
Tim Yeo, REA President and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee’s 2009 inquiry into ‘Green Jobs and Skills,’ said:
“The growth of the renewable energy industry is a really positive story for the UK and this report provides a great synopsis of our current position and the opportunities for the future. The Government must lead the way with a clearer and more systematic approach to developing the skills required to ensure a shortage does not derail the industry’s continued expansion.”
John Cridland, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industries, said:
“Renewables will play a key role in the development of the low-carbon economy, helping to diversify the UK energy mix whilst also providing opportunities for economic growth and new jobs.”
Frances O’Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said:
“This report makes the strongest case yet to show that green opportunities, and the jobs the sector has the potential to create, can provide decent, highly skilled employment to people whose jobs are being lost as a result of changes in the global economy. The Government’s green challenge is now to do all it can to create the investment climate to generate the green jobs we need to meet our 2020 target.”
Crisis – or opportunity?
“The renewable energy targets, ageing infrastructure, diminishing energy security, poor economic growth and high unemployment are a circle crying out to be squared.”
‘Renewable Energy: Made in Britain,’
This report makes it clear that the UK is facing challenges on several fronts, but that taking a joined-up approach which treats all of these problems together will create the single most important economic opportunity of this generation.
While the Government has shown strong leadership and made great strides in offshore wind and marine renewables, a framework is required which ensures link-up between all relevant departments to capitalise on the full range of benefits offered by renewables. This could be achieved by relaunching the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, currently housed within DECC, as a cross-departmental office chaired by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Additional recommendations, outlined in full on p. 8 of the report, include:
This final point is crucial, as the skills “time bomb” is both a major obstacle to achieving the green growth vision, and also a major opportunity for putting disillusioned graduates, the unemployed, and those in low paid work into high value careers.
£60 billion drain on economy of business as usual to 2020
Our analysis shows that meeting our renewable energy targets would displace fossil fuels with a value of £11 billion in 2020 (£60 billion cumulatively to 2020). Failure to meet our targets would see most of this money leave the UK economy through imports of oil, gas and coal – money better invested in supporting domestic growth in domestic jobs. Read more on p. 14 of the report.
The report exposes the portrayal of renewable energy as being excessively subsidised in comparison with other energy sources as utterly wrong. Analysis from the International Energy Agency shows that globally renewables receive just one sixth of the subsidy of fossil fuels, while analysis from Ofgem and the Committee on Climate Change reveals that renewable energy policies have only added a fraction to energy bills compared to increases caused by spiking wholesale gas prices. Read more on p. 13 of the report.
UK renewable energy innovation is impressive and must be championed
The report includes a regional breakdown which shows that the employment and economic opportunities are widely distributed across the country. It sets out over 30 case studies of UK innovation and manufacturing across over 15 technologies including:
These impressive innovations show that UK innovators are ready to step up to the plate, and give a taste of what is possible with the right Government supporting framework. These companies are heeding the call of Barack Obama to not get left behind in the most important global economic race of the 21st Century . Will Government do likewise?
Words of welcome from the report’s sponsors
Gearoid Lane, Managing Director of British Gas New Energy, said:
“This report shows the impact renewable energy can have in the economic wellbeing of Britain. Renewable technology makes sense for households giving them access to cheaper and cleaner energy sources. It also makes sense for Britain by creating much needed skilled jobs. We’re playing our part by setting up our own green skills training centre in Wales and investing in businesses developing renewable energy technology.”
Keith Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of SummitSkills, said:
“High quality skills are essential to making the growth of renewable energy a reality. The skills system is ready to respond - we just need the policy landscape completely joined up to drive demand for investment in training and upskilling. This report provides an essential building block to make this happen and we are pleased to be one of the sponsors.”
John Adkins, Group MD of Myriad CEG, said:
“This excellent report clearly shows that with a bit more long-term, joined-up thinking from Government the renewable energy sector can reach its true potential, as both a driver of employment and economic growth.”
Clean energy investment fell sharply in the first quarter of 2012, according to authoritative figures published today by research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. New financial investment was down 28% from Q4 2011 to just $27bn; it was 22% lower than the equivalent figure in the first quarter of last year.
New financial investment includes venture capital, private equity, public markets and asset finance, but excludes small-scale projects and corporate and government RD&D, on which Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports only annually.
The first quarter 2012 new financial investment total included $24.2bn in asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as wind farms and solar parks, plus $1.9bn of venture capital and private equity investment in specialist clean energy companies. Just $601m was raised on the public markets by quoted companies during the period.
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “A $27bn quarterly figure is not a disaster, but it is the weakest since the dismal $20bn seen in the first quarter of 2009, when the financial crisis was at its worst.
“The weak Q1 2012 number reflects the destabilising uncertainty over future clean energy support in both the European Union – driven by the financial crisis – and the US – driven by the expiry of stimulus programmes and the electoral cycle. There is no sign of a rapid turnaround in either of these regions in the next 12 months. Clean energy technologies, particularly solar photovoltaics and onshore wind, continue to fall in price and approach competitiveness with fossil-fuel power – but politicians in many countries appear to be ducking the decisions that would ensure that the sector maintains its growth trajectory. We are seeing growth in some of the non-core markets around the world, but they will have a tough job replacing weakening demand in the developed world.”
In the US, the key support mechanism for wind – the Production Tax Credit – is due to expire at the end of this year unless Congress agrees to extend it; while in Europe, governments in key countries such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK have announced cuts in incentives for renewable power projects, in some cases leaving investors guessing about their likely future returns.
Looking at the different categories of investment in Q1, asset finance of $24.2bn was 30% down from the fourth quarter and 13% below that in the first quarter of 2011. There continued to be some large renewable energy projects financed – including the 396MW Marena Wind Portfolio in Mexico for $961m,
the 100MW KVK Chinnu solar thermal plant in India for approximately $400m, and the 201MW Post
Rock Wind farm in Kansas, US, for an estimated $376m.
The largest projects financed in Europe in Q1 – in the face of a difficult market for bank lending following last autumn’s euro area crisis – were the 150MW Monsson Pantelina wind farm in Romania at $317m, and the 60.4MW SunEdison Karadzhalovo solar PV plant in Bulgaria at $248m.
Venture capital and private equity investment held up well at $1.9bn, just 2% below that in the fourth quarter of last year and 6% higher than the first quarter of 2011. The biggest deals were $130m in equity raised by US electric vehicle company Fisker Automotive, a $102.6m injection into UK-based biomass-to- power firm Tamar Energy, and an $81m fund-raise by US PV installer SolarCity.
Public market investment in clean energy of $601m was down 12% from the fourth quarter, and 87% from the first quarter of 2011 – a plunge that was not surprising, given the poor performance of sector shares in the last year. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, which tracks the movements of 97 clean energy shares worldwide, fell 40% in 2011 and clawed back just 7% in the first quarter of 2012 as world stock markets rebounded.
The largest two public market deals in clean energy in Q1 were both initial public offerings by US
companies in the biofuel sector – Ceres, a developer of genetically-modified energy crops, raised $74.8m, and Renewable Energy Group, a maker of biodiesel, raised $68.6m.
Liebreich said: “The outlook for investment in the remainder of the year remains difficult. The rapidly improving cost-competitiveness of renewable energy technologies is stimulating activity, particularly in developing countries. However it is becoming harder to see the sector worldwide beating last year’s record, unless the storm-clouds lift in Europe and US congress stops bickering sends some clear signals about the importance of new energy technologies. Meanwhile, continuing improvements in the sector’s economics mean that companies which survive these next few years, whether on the industry’s supply or demand side, will be extremely well positioned for the next growth phase.”
In 2011, overall clean energy investment, including the “financial new investment” measure calculated quarterly but also annually-calculated totals for government and corporate research and development and small-scale projects such as rooftop solar, was a record $263bn. This compares to 2010’s total of $247bn and just $54bn back in 2004. A final figure for 2011 will be published by mid-year as part of the UN Global Trends in Renewable Investment report, which will include information on late-reporting transactions from 2011.