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Renewables could support 400,000 jobs by 2020

The renewable energy industry supports 110,000 jobs in the UK and could support 400,000 by 2020, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

In a report, also supported by consultants Innovas, it concludes that the industry is worth £12.5bn per year to the UK economy.

Last week the European Commission said low-carbon generation and energy efficiency could generate five million jobs across the EU by 2020.

The report follows two opinion polls showing public support for renewables.

The REA says its report, which will be formally launched on Tuesday, is the first comprehensive analysis of the economic and employment benefits of the UK industry.

“Harnessing our renewables creates employment, and means that rather than spending money on energy imports we can keep it circulating in the UK economy,” said REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell.

“When it comes to the employment, economic and energy challenges we face, the answer is clear - make it renewable, and make it in Britain.”

The renewables sector grew by 11 per cent between 2009/10 and 2010/11, compared with overall UK growth of just 1.4 per cent.

The report also calculates that renewables generated exports of just under £1.6bn in 2010/11, with wind technologies the biggest contributor.

The UK target is to supply 15 per cent of total energy - not just electricity - from renewable sources by 2020, a goal that is likely to prove challenging.