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Energy bills ‘subsidise Scottish wind farm jobs by more than £150,000’

Every job created in the onshore wind farm industry in Scotland is subsidised by more than £150,000 a year, it has been claimed.

A report into the costs behind green energy projects has found that wind turbine owners received £1.2 billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a supplement on electricity bills.

Scotland has 203 onshore wind farms, the highest proportion out of anywhere in the UK, and industry figures show 2235 people are directly employed by them.

Last year they attracted an annual subsidy of £344 million through the Renewables Obligation consumer subsidy, working out at £154,000 per job. The costs have been seized on by opponents of renewable energy, who say that they undermine claims that wind farms are dynamic employers.

The Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank that has criticised the cost of wind farms, say that the subsidy about £47 to the average household’s cost of living.

Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “Subsidies can create some soft jobs in the wind power industry but will destroy real jobs and reduce wages in other sectors, in the UK’s case because the subsidies cause higher electricity prices for consumers. The extravagant subsidy cost per wind power job is an indication of the scale of that problem.”

He added: “Truly productive energy industries – gas, coal, oil, for example – create jobs indirectly by providing cheap energy that allows other businesses to prosper, but the subsidy-dependent renewables sector is a long way from this goal; it’s still much too expensive.”

Earlier this year, green group Scottish Renewables published figures showing that 2235 jobs were “connected directly to onshore wind”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Last year saw the green energy industry bring around £1.3 billion of investment to Scotland, enhancing energy security and delivering jobs and benefit to Scotland’s communities.”