The REA’s (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) annual state of the industry report reveals the energy transition still faces significant challenges which are currently delaying the roll out of low carbon technologies across all sectors.
The report, dubbed REview23, shows that while progress on renewable power remains positive, until supportive Government policy measures are forthcoming for heat, transport and circular bioresources, it will continually be a challenge for the UK to meet its legally binding net zero commitments.
The report highlights that the energy transition is as much an economic opportunity as an environmental imperative. The industry is currently on track to support more than 210,000 jobs by 2035, with the market value doubling from 2022 at £23bn to £46bn by 2035.
But political uncertainty and rolling back on green policies has meant that renewable developers are hurting, and international investment risks going elsewhere.
It showed the industry is currently weighted towards London and the south east, reflecting a trend across the economy. But proactive support from the government could see jobs and investment distributed more equally. The North East could see a 111% increase in market value by 2035, for example.
Findings include more than 140,000 people employed by the renewable energy and clean tech sector in 2021/2022, with the REA predicting 210,000 jobs and the market value for the sector doubling to £46bn by 2035; bioenergy and wind playing an increasing role; and 5.32% of transport energy consumption generated by renewables last year.
Recycling rates for 2021 (the latest available full year) increased slightly, to 43.7% and while any increase is positive, the circular bioresources sector remains overlooked, and with the organics industry in a prime position to help the UK deliver on our net zero targets it is disappointing that industry is not able to capitalise on its full potential.
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA said: “The urgent need to unlock policy and investment blockages is clear throughout REview23, which shows that in 2022, only 14% of the UK’s total energy consumption came from renewable sources across heat, transport and power according to Government statistics.
“While we continued to see the dynamic resilience of the renewable energy and clean technology sector over 2022 through the energy crisis, as well as months of political and policy uncertainty, we are not immune to real world economic forces. Indeed, at times it can feel as if we are wading through treacle when repeatedly being challenged to make the economic case for net zero.
“Even though it has been proven countless times that the energy transition is as much an economic opportunity as an environmental imperative, our sector still finds itself having to overcome naysayers time and time again.
“REview23 projects that thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds will be added by the sector by 2035, and these figures could be even greater should the Government deliver the right support. Of course, these numbers are by no means guaranteed if the Government continues to provide patchy and unreliable policy.
“We are clear, tackling climate change and boosting our economy is not an ‘either-or’ decision. In fact, it goes hand in hand. I would urge the Government to recognise the opportunities on offer for our country and finally match their warm words with action.”
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