Wind farm developers receive more than £115,000 in subsidy for every person they employ in the UK, new analysis shows.
There are now a record 15,500 people directly employed in the onshore and offshore wind industries in the UK, according to a report released today by wind lobby group Renewable UK.
But the bill for subsidies to wind farm owners is now estimated to be a record £1.8bn a year, according to industry critics the Renewable Energy Foundation – and has risen even faster than the number of “green jobs”.
Last summer the Telegraph disclosed that each job in the industry was effectively subsidised by £100,000 a year, reflecting the 12,000 people Renewable UK said were directly employed at the time, and estimated £1.2bn annual subsidy costs.
The increased subsidy-per-job rate since then reflects first power being generated from new offshore wind farms, which receive far higher subsidies than those onshore.
Yet jobs in the offshore wind industry actually fell slightly over the past year, according to Renewable UK, in anticipation of a slow-down in construction next year.
In total there are now 8,679 people employed in the onshore wind industry and 6,746 in the offshore sector, Renewable UK said. This compares with a total of 9,000 in the entire UK wind industry four years ago.
Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said: “The energy sector is powering Britain’s economic recovery – and the jobs created in the wind industry show why Britain’s the global number one for offshore wind capacity and investment.”
But John Constable, director of REF, said: “Large numbers of soft, subsidised, jobs in the wind energy sector is nothing to boast about; it indicates low productivity and high cost energy, which of course destroys real jobs in the rest of the economy.
“What we really want is a high productivity energy sector with a small number of well-paid, highly skilled employees, producing cheap energy that creates fundamentally viable employment in the rest of the economy.”
Mr Constable’s comments are supported by a report by the Government-funded UK Energy Research Centre which last week said: “In the long-term, if the economy is expected to return to full employment, then ‘job creation’ is not a meaningful concept.
“In this context, high labour intensity is not in itself a desirable quality, and ‘green jobs’ is not a particularly useful prism through which to view the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency investment. What matters in the long-term is overall economic efficiency.”
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, said: “Green jobs are important because they are high-value jobs. But over time it’s clear that the technologies we choose to get our power from we will choose because they are most cost effective and help us tackle climate change.
“You can’t assume the reason we are generating this power is just employment: the main reason we are generating this power is to keep the lights on and make sure we are less dependent on imports. In doing that we also need to maximise economic benefits to the UK.”
He said the effective subsidy cost of green jobs would decrease with time, for example with a new Siemens factory employing 1,000 people in Hull opening in 2016.
“As the industry invests and we see the manufacturing jobs come through the job benefits will be even clearer,” he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding