Wednesday, 2 February 2011


In these straitened times, it's a nice, if only too rare, thing to hear good news about jobs.

So how wonderful to discover that employment in the UK's burgeoning wind energy industry has almost doubled over the past three years.

At a time when the economic news has been pretty grim, and appears only to be going from bad to worse, a study undertaken by Warwick University's Institute for Employment Research and Cambridge Econometrics has revealed that the wind energy sector is bearing up admirably.

More than 6,000 people are now employed by firms associated with onshore windfarms, compared with around 3,100 by offshore wind and nearly 900 working on marine energy projects. A similar survey undertaken in 2008 showed that just 4,800 full time equivalent employees were working across all three sectors.

Between 2007/8 and 2009/10, employment in the wind power industry rose by 91%. Which makes it pretty much unique, where the British economy is concerned. Evidently, wind power really is a growth industry.

There are, of course, denialists who will claim that all this employment is down solely to government subsidies - but as we've seen, they're incapable of talking sense or getting their facts right. Intriguingly, one person who pointed out the high level of Danish subsidies to their wind power industry implicitly confirmed that Denmark is continuing to invest in wind energy, contrary to the false claims put about by nimby groups, pro-nuclear lobbyists and certain wayward politicians.

Of course, there's a long way to go. Only today, a joint study by Accenture and Barclays has called upon European governments to invest some 2.9 trillion euros in renewable energy and low-carbon infrastructure over the next decade. That's right: Barclays and Accenture - hardly the greenest and most eco-friendly of institutions. Approximately one quarter of that investment should go towards funding low-carbon electricity production, say the report's authors.

Taken together, these two up-to-the-minute reports reveal a very clear picture. Wind energy is blossoming at a time when so many other sectors are struggling. Economists are demanding massive investment in renewables. The future is bright, the future is green.

So how on earth do we shut up the looney brigade who keep trying to turn back the clock? Suggestions on a postcard, please.

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