SAS has commented on the latest DECC press release* about renewable energy jobs and investment.

These are overspun and discredited figures which will persuade no one that onshore wind energy is a significant job creator. In fact the very high levels of public subsidy, not to mention the increased electricity costs for consumers and industry, necessary to support renewables jobs are causing a net loss in jobs in the wider economy.

The figures come from the trade organisation and industry lobby group Scottish Renewables and have not been independently verified. In March Fergus Ewing, the SNP Energy Minister was forced to admit that less than one fifth of this figure – i.e. 2,235 posts – was “connected directly to onshore wind” (1). The vast majority of these will be temporary jobs in development or construction, while the turbines themselves are largely manufactured abroad and installed by foreign labour gangs. Once built, windfarms are fully automated, controlled by remote computers often located outside Scotland.

By contrast, oil and gas in Scotland support 200,000 jobs with investment of £11.4 billion in 2012 expected to rise to over £13 billion by the end of 2013 (2). These jobs do not depend on massive taxpayer subsidy unlike wind energy where electricity generated by onshore turbines receives roughly a 100% subsidy, and offshore 200%. The energy economist Richard Marsh has calculated that diverting public funding into the renewables industry instead of projects where it would have more economic impact in effect means that every renewable power job costs 3.7 posts that would have arisen elsewhere (3).