Renewable energy in Scotland Contents

4A green recovery for Jobs

46.Claire Mack from Scottish Renewables told us that 22,660 jobs are currently supported by green energy in Scotland,127 but there is potential for more. Neil Kermode—Managing Director, European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd—explained that estimates show “about 4,000 jobs could be in the marine energy industry within this decade. We reckon that would rise to about 22,000 by 2040”.128 In 2010 the Scottish Government provided an ambitious suggestion, when it said there was a potential for 130,000 jobs in the low carbon renewable energy sector.129 Bob MacGregor—National Officer, Unite the Union—told us that in relation to the 2010 target the Scottish Government: “have created about 6% of that at best. The job creation that was predicted just has not come to fruition, and that is solely because the contracts have been shipped out around the world”.130

47.Importing parts for the generation of renewable energy e.g., wind turbines, has been raised as an area of concern.131 Bob MacGregor—National Officer, Unite the Union—illustrated this point: “We are looking for investment in infrastructure, not importing it—make it here; build it here; use it here”.132 Neil Douglas—Director, BVG Associates—told us: “we don’t make wind turbines here. We make certain components. There are a couple of wind turbine blade factories in the UK. We have made some wind turbine towers, but we are not producing the whole turbines”.133 European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)’s written evidence noted: “The choice is stark: we either build the technology ourselves or we will import it from others at a later date with the associated outflow of capital and adverse impact on balance of payments”.134

Training the workforce

48.Successful renewable energy projects require a skilled workforce at all levels. The training of this workforce is critical to ensure net zero targets are met. These people could be people moving from jobs in oil and gas, retraining or new to the workplace. Bob MacGregor put it simply: “We need people to be trained and ready to do it”.135 Matthieu Hue—Chief Executive Officer, EDF Renewables—noted the industry is not at capacity: “The industry needs more skilled and trained people”.136

49.Skills are transferable between offshore oil and gas and renewable energy.137 Claire Mack—Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables—informed us of the work going on in the renewable industry to: “home in on what skills cross over between our current oil and gas workforce into that renewable energy space”.138

50.Professor Karen Turner—Director, Centre for Energy Policy, University of Strathclyde—stressed the urgency of job creation and skills development in renewable energy: “we do need to act on this quickly”.139 Bob MacGregor highlighted the importance of the speed of the project pipeline in relation to jobs and training: “If we do not get investment quickly to get these projects up and running, the training does not need to be there if the jobs are not going to be there at the end of it”.140

Green energy jobs and the pipeline of projects

51.The pipeline of projects for the supply chain and the creation of jobs are inextricably linked. Claire Mack—Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables—illustrated this point: “the CfD mechanism is pivotal to driving projects. We don’t get jobs without projects, and that is important”.141 To demonstrate the clear link, Neil Douglas explained how wind energy sector jobs have benefited from a pipeline of projects: “The development of the wind industry, both onshore and offshore, has been successful in Scotland in creating jobs in project development, project design, engineering, management and environmental studies”.142 Steven Bruce—Project Officer (ReFLEX), Orkney Islands Council—provided an example of how the grid impacts the availability of jobs: “If that grid connection was made and we could develop all these technologies at a large scale within the islands, we would be able to create a large number of jobs”.143 The interdependency of the pipeline of projects, the supply chain, funding and grid capacity all affect green energy jobs in Scotland.

UK and Scottish Government interventions post pandemic

52.As part of the covid-19 recovery both the UK and Scottish Governments have invested in a “green recovery” for jobs. The UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution144 states that the UK Government “will mobilise £12 billion of government investment, and potentially 3 times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs”.145 Green recovery for jobs was also mentioned in the December 2020 Energy White Paper.146 The UK Government launched a Green Jobs Taskforce in December 2020, which published its report on 14 July 2021.147 This group worked “in partnership with business, skills providers and unions, to help […] develop plans for new long-term good quality, green jobs by 2030 and advise what support is needed for people in transitioning industries”.148 The UK Government state it was investing in the “UKs most important asset–our workforce”.149 Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP—Minister, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy—told us the Green Jobs Taskforce will:

set out a wide-ranging assessment of needs when jobs have to transition either for upskilling or, as we were talking about in the oil and gas sector, to skills being used in a different sector, and also importantly how we harness the as yet untapped human capital of our young ones to make sure we think about how we drive all the skills development they will need to do green jobs.150

53.The Scottish Government have invested in a Green Jobs Fund (GJF). It explained: “The GJF will support businesses to create green employment through investment in equipment and premises and research and development (R&D), with subsequent opportunities for individuals to retrain and upskill in new and high-growth areas”.151 As of 25 June 2021, no specific projects have been funded for 2021–22.152 As of the date of this Report’s publication there have not been any further announcements. The National Transition Training Fund was launched on 1 September 2020. The fund will “help up to 10,000 people aged 25 and over to develop the skills required to move into sectors with the greatest potential for future growth and job opportunities”.153

54.The Scottish Government suggested in analysis that 130,000 green jobs could have been created by 2020, we are disappointed that the evidence we received from Unite the Union stated that only 6% of this was reached. Funding for a green recovery from the UK and Scottish Governments is welcome and we look forward to seeing how this improves job prospects for the people of Scotland including upskilling workers. This is vital to meet renewable energy and net zero targets. The evidence presented to us has exposed the interconnectivity between pipelines of energy projections, the supply chain, funding, and grid capacity and if these factors align, then jobs will follow.

55.We recommend that the Scottish Government progress their Green Jobs Fund more rapidly and the UK Government should use part of the £12 billion outlined in the Ten Point Plan to invest in renewable energy in Scotland. This investment should focus on the pipeline of energy projects in Scotland including established and emerging renewable technology. This investment could provide economic multipliers in terms of jobs and improved prospects for renewable energy companies and the people of Scotland.

131 Unite the union Scotland (RES0005), European Marine Energy Centre Ltd (EMEC) Ltd (RES0007), Simply Blue Energy (RES0017), Nova Innovation Ltd (RES0020),

134 European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd (RES0033)

144 UK Government, Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, 18 November 2020

145 UK Government, The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, November 2020, page 3

147 UK Government, Green Jobs Taskforce, 14 July 2021

148 UK Government, Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, 18 November 2020, page 28

149 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (RES0026)

151 Scottish Government (RES0039)

152 Scottish Parliament, Question ref S6W-00831, 1 July 2021

153 Scottish Government, Investing in skills to support recovery, 8 October 2020

Published: 17 September 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement