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74% increase in UK jobs in wind and marine energy

19 September 2013

  • Wind, wave and tidal energy sector directly employs 18,465 people full time.
  • The sector also supports 15,908 indirect jobs, making a total of over 34,300 employees
  • Number of employees in offshore wind has doubled since 2010.
  • More than 70,000 jobs could be created over the next decade.
  • 91% of the industry’s jobs in the UK are currently filled by UK citizens.

RenewableUK, the trade body for the UK wind and marine renewables sector, today published an update of its 2010 study into employment in the wind, wave and tidal energy sectors. Working for a Green Britain and Northern Ireland reveals that together these important growth industries now directly employ 18,465 people full time. That’s equivalent to three times the number of people employed in UK coal industry (5,005 in June 2013 according to DECC) and a 74% increase in jobs since 2010.

The report shows that the offshore wind sector saw the biggest growth between 2010 and 2013, with the number of direct jobs doubling from 3,151 to 6,830.

When including indirect jobs (companies that supply goods and services to the sector, such as gearbox component manufacturers) the wind, wave and tidal energy industries support the employment of over 34,000 people.

Jointly commissioned by RenewableUK and Energy & Utility Skills, and compiled by Cambridge Econometrics in partnership with IFF Research and the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, this new employment data shows that 91% of employees in the UK wind and marine energy industry are UK citizens. This demonstrates how important the green economy is for providing and creating employment in the UK, often in parts of the country with high levels of unemployment. The research highlights the fact that women make up 20% of the sector’s workforce – this is lower than the proportion of women in technical and professional occupations in the UK, but proportionally higher than in the power sector overall, thereby demonstrating the sector’s success in attracting women into the energy industry.

The report also shows that it is not just big businesses that are experiencing growth. More than 80% of all employers in the wind, wave and tidal industries employ fewer than 250 people and 56% employ fewer than 25 people, showing that SMEs are at the heart of the sector, and are driving the growth in employment, reflecting the depth and diversity of the industry.

Looking to the future the report predicts that more than 70,000 jobs could be created over the next decade, nearly half of which would be in offshore wind.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, commented on the report, saying: “Today’s report clearly demonstrates how the wind, wave and tidal industries are creating jobs and growth for the economy. There are tens of thousands of people employed in skilled jobs the length and breadth of the country building a world-leading industry in the UK and providing clean, reliable energy.

“Industry and Government need to work side by side to back this workforce and the growth they generate. If the UK gets this right, our wind, wave and tidal industries could employ more than 70,000 people over the next decade. The offshore wind sector alone could be employing nearly 45,000 workers in the 2020s. As an industry we are truly creating jobs out of fresh air.”

However, Ms McCaffery warned that further growth should not be taken for granted. Working for a Green Britain and Northern Ireland looked at a range of different scenarios to assess growth prospects, and under a low deployment scenario growth is significantly stunted, with offshore wind actually seeing a reduction in numbers currently employed:

“The scale of the opportunity is massive, but success is not guaranteed. To really harness the economic benefits of our technologies we must ensure that there is certainty for industry. Certainty on future levels of deployment of wind, wave and tidal energy over the next decade will enable firms to invest in the right people and the right skills, and ensure we maximise the number of green collar jobs we create as we transform our electricity system. We want to ensure offshore wind is given the same opportunity to prosper as the North Sea oil and gas industries had in their heyday”.

RenewableUK also today launched a Skills Manifesto, calling for Government to provide certainty to the industry, streamline and coordinate funding to where it is most needed and to provide financial incentives to encourage students into STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics).


  1. The survey, which measures employment in the sector in mid-2013 by technology, activity and nation, was carried out by IFF Research. The sample of companies was provided by RenewableUK. 237 companies were interviewed. The full report can be found here:

  2. Working for a Green Britain Volume 2, published in 2011, revealed that the industry employed 10,600 full time employees in 2010, meaning that employment in the sector has increased by 7,900 jobs (74%) between 2010 and 13. Volume 2 can be seen here:

  3. The largest increase in roles has been in construction and installation, with an additional 2,500 people now employed. The report also shows the breakdown of jobs across the sector with 30% of people working in construction and installation, 25% in planning and development, 18% in support services, 16% in operations and maintenance and 10% in manufacturing, demonstrating the diverse employment opportunities the renewables sector offers.
  4. Current direct jobs are split over the sectors as follows: large onshore wind 6,609 Full Time Employees; medium onshore wind 838 FTEs; small-scale onshore wind 2,464 FTEs; offshore wind 6,830 FTEs; wave and tidal 1,724 FTEs.

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Media Contacts:

  • Robert Norris, Head of Communications, 020 7901 3013 or 07969 229913
  • Adam Wentworth, Communications Officer, 020 7901 3038 or 07791 702 702
RenewableUK is the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy. Formed in 1978, we have an established, large corporate membership ranging from small independent companies, to large international corporations and manufacturers. Acting as a central point of information and a united, representative voice for our membership, we conduct research; find solutions; organise events, facilitate business development, and promote wind and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. Our vision is for renewable energy to play a leading role in powering the UK.

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