The employer-led organisation responsible for benchmarking skills and standards in the energy and utilities sector has warned Government measures to reduce onshore subsidies could compromise power to three million homes.
While Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills) is welcoming the promised increase in offshore wind farm subsidies announced in Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement 2013, it is also urging Government not to overlook onshore. This is owing to the fact that the planned 4.5GW of power forms a vital part of the UK’s overall energy security policy and its ability to supply millions of homes.
Sarah Johnson, EU Skills Head of Renewables, said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition of the challenges our offshore wind industry faces, but it is disappointing to see the lack of commitment for onshore, which is an established technology with a track history that investors can rely on. Onshore should not be overlooked and has an important role to play in keeping the lights on around the UK in the future.”
At the same time, EU Skills welcomed more investment for offshore and said that it would be crucial in overcoming extra complexities and lack of experience in the industry. More funding, it believes, will help redress the current imbalance of risk versus reward that recently saw RWE nPower withdraw from the Atlantic Array wind farm development off the south coast of Wales.
Ms Johnson added: “We have been calling for more clarity and guidance from Government on renewable issues for a long time, so it is good to see more funding into offshore – a complex industry where the UK leads the way.
“Our figures show that almost 45,000 jobs could be created in offshore wind in the next ten years. However, there could also be more than 37,000 created across onshore – Government needs to support both to guarantee growth. We have seen fantastic investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) into our renewables initiatives, but more Government commitment positively impact the economy and assist the UK in achieving its target of generating 15 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2020.”