The UK’s green economy is now worth £42.6 billion
The UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest survey into the size and performance of the low-carbon economy this week.
The statistical bulletin shows strong growth of 5 percent in 2016, and the sector is now worth £42.6 billion in turnover.
This is nominally higher than the 1.8 percent of growth seen throughout the whole UK economy last year.
Overall, the low carbon and renewable energy sector employed 208,000 full-time workers in 2016, an increase of 3.3 percent from the previous survey.
The ONS compiled employment and financial data from close to 14,000 businesses operating in the 17 low-carbon and renewable energy sectors.
However, it is keen to point out that the data is “indicative” and that “a more complete picture of how the (green) economy is changing over time will be possible once longer-term trends are available”.
Energy efficiency continued to be the largest sector of the green economy, accounting for half of all turnover and two-thirds of employees at 141,500.
This was followed by low-carbon electricity, largely covering nuclear, wind and solar. These groups employed 31,500 people, which actually represented a decrease of 3,000 jobs since the last survey.
The renewables sector was brightest for wind power, which saw £5.1 billion of capital investment over the year and employed 14,000 people. This offset some of the decline in the solar sector which saw its turnover drop to 2 billion. This can be partly attributed to policy changes and a cut in financial support from the government.
While onshore wind has also been excluded from new subsidy auctions, the impact isn’t immediately clear. Most onshore wind developers have been constructing projects which were approved before the government imposed a de facto ban on the technology in 2015. A sharp decline in job numbers and investment is likely to already be taking place. By contrast, offshore wind in the UK remains healthy with major new projects under development right around the coast.
Image Credit: Transsen Aquecedor Solar Ltd