The chance to create at least 70,000 UK jobs will be wasted if the government does not act quickly to support green energy technology, a leading left-wing think-tank has warned.
A study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said that without a rapid expansion in offshore wind capacity, the UK will struggle to capture a significant proportion of new jobs available in the sector.
Between 23,000 and 70,000 jobs could be created in offshore wind alone, it said, with a further 133,000 jobs up for grabs in the renewable energy sector.
But unless the government removes barriers to investment, provides additional, focused financial support to the industry and builds up the necessary skills base, the UK will find it difficult to meet its legally binding target of supplying 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The report said: “Without a more interventionist approach from government, the UK will struggle to capture a significant share of these jobs, given that nearby countries already have thriving industries on which to develop the new capacities required for offshore wind.”
The UK currently has the world’s largest installed offshore wind capacity but employs just 700 people, as parts are often manufactured abroad.
The report added: “Failure to act to gain jobs in this sector will be a significant missed opportunity as the UK moves towards a low-carbon economy.”
The government is expected to announce plans to create new jobs in the green energy sector thereby boosting the UK economy in next week’s budget.