According to Renewable UK, pre-Brexit figures show the proportion of European workers in the UK’s offshore wind industry is less than five percent. An energy industry source said that on the contrary there would be an even lower proportion of people from the EU working on onshore solar and wind projects in the UK.
Net Zero Scottish Secretary Michael Matheson told a UK and Irish Council meeting at the COP26 climate summit that the renewable energy sector had expressed concerns to him about the impact of the exit from the ‘EU.
He said they were concerned about the strain Brexit was putting on access to the labor market.
He told the assembly: ‘One problem we need to understand across the UK and Ireland is that Brexit is having an impact that could start to undermine our ability to move at the pace we need. to fight against climate change.
âI’ve heard over and over again here at this summit about the need for rhythm and that this is a defining decade; we also heard it at the World Leaders’ Summit last week.
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âThe key is not only the deployment of the technology, it is also having the skills to manufacture, install and maintain this technology.
“We need to start recognizing that limited access to good labor markets could compromise our ability to move at the pace at which we need to tackle climate change.”
However, a spokesperson for Renewable UK told the Express that EU workers made up only 4.86% of those in the UK offshore wind industry – “so not a significant proportion. “.
They added: “We don’t know if Brexit had an effect to be honest, as the statistics were compiled in March 2020”.
Currently, the ongoing projects would give the UK an offshore wind capacity of 63 gigawatts. The spokesperson said the UK would be able to meet the Prime Minister’s target “as long as new projects continue to be approved in a timely manner”.
Solar Energy UK has also been contacted for comment.
In March of this year, a study by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) showed that the number of people working in the âworld-classâ offshore wind industry is expected to increase significantly by 2026.
The report says the current workforce of 26,000 would skyrocket to 69,800 in just five years.
Most jobs would be created in areas in need of urgent leveling, such as the North East, Yorkshire, East Anglia and Scotland.
The private sector will invest Â£ 60.8 billion in wind projects across the UK over the next five years, OWIC predicted.
Melanie Onn, Deputy Managing Director of Renewable UK, said at the time: âRenewable energy is creating opportunities for people across the UK, from recent graduates to workers leaving the fossil fuel industries, and we want to make sure that the right training and support is available. place to harness all the talent and expertise we will need in the clean energy transition.
In the 2014 referendum, the SNP’s economic arguments for independence relied heavily on the North Sea oil fields.
In a 2017 speech at the Oil and Gas UK conference, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon noted that oil fields could hold up to 20 billion barrels of oil.
According to Politico, she told the conference: âOur main objective – and I want to stress this and stress this – our main objective is to maximize the economic recovery of these reserves. “
She added: ‘The Scottish government will continue to support the oil and gas sector as strongly as possible. “