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Green energy growth could mitigate 90% of COVID-19 job losses

There is a visible pipeline of 450 green energy projects, mainly solar and wind power, in the UK currently. Image: Maria Godfrida (Pixabay).

​Currently there is a visible pipeline of 540 green energy projects, mainly solar and wind power with a capacity of 43GW in the UK, which have the potential to create 438,667 jobs.

A pipeline of 540 green energy projects in the UK could ad 43GW of generation capacity and create more than 430,000 clean jobs, largely mitigating job losses caused by COVID-19, a new report has claimed.

These projects could create an investment opportunity of US$154 billion (£111 billion), with northern England and Scotland set to benefit from this growth in particular.

The number of jobs created further increases if storage, transmission and distribution projects are taken into account, with the pipeline growing to 668 projects and around 625,000 jobs. Of these projects, 82 percent ate at the permitting stage and could get the green light from policy-makers without the need for new public spending.

Scotland stands to see the most projects developed with 211, while the East Midlands has 39, the East of England has 41, Wales has 49, North East England has 11 and Yorkshire and the Humber has 14.

As such, green energy offers enormous potential for sustained job creation and economic growth, a new study from the European Climate Foundation, written by EY, has found. It called for strong national targets as well as the extension of investment contracts such as the Contracts for Difference scheme for renewable energy firms.

In this wider scenario, 90% of job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic are mitigated by green energy jobs. Of the new jobs, 80% are expected to be focussed around vocational skills.

EY suggests that 261,000 of the jobs are local, while 364,000 are In the supply chain. Of the local jobs, 57,000 will be in Scotland, 135,000 in the north, midlands and east England - the region bolstered by offshore wind jobs In the north sea, 46,000 in southern England, 15,000 in Wales and 8,000 in Northern Ireland.

In the past five years, just £500 million in public finance has generated £50 billion in private investment in UK clean energy projects EY added, representing high value returns for taxpayers.

The UK was ranked sixth for potential job creation and capacity additions in the study, which found that globally there is a pipeline of 13,000 renewable projects that could contribute 1TW of renewable generation capacity. These could create 10 million jobs in total, including those made locally and throughout supply chains and amount to US$2 trillion in investment opportunities.

EY’s research covered 47 countries laying out the total global opportunity, and showing that the visible project pipeline would close emissions reduction targets for 2030 for the countries covered.

The United States topped the rankings, with a visible pipeline of 2,673 projects that could add 230GW of capacity. This would create 1,830,033 jobs and amounts to a US$334 billion investment opportunity.

Serge Colle, EY’s global energy advisor said the report took a bottom-up approach that mapped the pipeline of ‘shovel ready’ investable projects that could be “unlocked to enable a green recovery.”

“This new report highlights the huge potential to accelerate private sector renewables investment through applying the best government policies and regulatory frameworks through global collaboration between governments and the private sector.”

EY’s study follows research from campaign group Green New Deal UK that suggested investment in green jobs could allow them to replace all those lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic in two years. Such investment across sectors like green infrastructure, R&D and digitalisation could create a net job gain of almost 240,000 over two years, growing the number of green jobs in the UK to over 1.2 million green jobs.

Already in Scotland alone the green energy sector currently supports 22,660 jobs, a report from University of Strathclyde found in June.

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