RenewableUK, the trade and professional body representing the wind and marine energy industries, has welcomed a new report highlighting the economic benefits of wind.

The study, by Cambridge Econometrics for WWF and Greenpeace, shows that UK GDP will be £20bn higher (0.8%) in 2030 if investment is focussed on offshore wind rather than gas. It also predicts that tens of thousands of extra jobs will be created in the wind industry.

The report comes on the eve of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, in which George Osborne is expected to announce the construction of a number of gas-fired power stations.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, said, “We keep seeing tangible evidence of the enormous economic and environmental benefits generated by wind energy. The new report by Cambridge Econometrics provides further proof of this, showing that the offshore wind sector alone will add £20bn to UK GDP by 2030.

“The wind industry is already up and running, onshore and offshore. Renewables are already generating nearly ten percent of our electricity – with almost half of that coming from wind. The Energy Bill published last week provides a strong framework for this to increase to 30% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020, with further growth continuing out to 2030.

“The government is considering what else should be part of this energy mix. Renewable energy is a proven team player which is helping the UK to manage costs and ensure security of supply while also tackling climate change. What’s more, renewables are doing this today. The question is, which other players will be on the team bus? That will be decided partly by their track record. All other technologies will need to pass similar robust tests.

“Every independent opinion poll this year shows that about two thirds of the public support renewables and want more wind energy as they’ve already seen the benefits it brings. Fossil fuels, including shale gas, don’t enjoy that level of public support, as people have expressed their concerns about their cost, the environmental damage they do, and the fact that they can only be extracted in limited quantities.”