By Martin Kelly
A joint report by the renewables industry and the UK Government shows that wind generation has brought 8,600 jobs and over half a billion pounds to the economy.
Research by Scottish based consultancy firm BiGGAR Economics also showed that local people benefited from community ownership, improvements to infrastructure and schemes that allowed residents to be paid for hosting turbines on their property.
The report follows increasingly bitter attacks on the Scottish Government’s onshore wind power plans by anti-windfarm groups and figures including US tycoon Donald Trump.
Responding to the report, SNP MSP Rob Gibson said this highlights the benefits of moving towards a low-carbon economy. The UK report also showed Scotland accounts for more than 60 per cent of the wind power in the UK.
Mr Gibson, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said:
“This welcome report simply highlights what benefits were reaped last year from wind power – and what can be reaped in future years.
“Scotland has vast renewables resources and our wind industry employs tens of thousands of people, supporting the economy in this tough financial climate.
“Over half of the wind farms in this report are based in Scotland, which shows international corporations and domestic firms are investing for the future in Scotland’s world-leading renewables industry.”
The report focused on 18 windfarms throughout the UK and followed more attacks on windfarms with 100 Tory MPs calling on David Cameron to cut subsidies for the technology.
The UK Government has been accused of failing to provide adequate funding for the sector and recently it emerged that the coalition was proposing to use taxpayer’s cash to subsidise nuclear.
The Scottish Government has identified the renewables sector’s vast potential and First Minister Alex Salmond has insisted that green energy could re-industrialise Scotland.
Mr Gibson added:
“Scotland has a legacy of industrial expertise in the energy sector that is delivering 35% of our electricity needs as well as jobs and investment to our communities.
“Poll after poll has shown the overwhelming majority of Scots back wind power as the best way to generate energy.
“Scotland has a total estimated renewables capital investment of £46 billion, ready to create thousands of new jobs in Scotland – most recently with Gamesa’s decision to invest in Edinburgh rather than Hartlepool, bringing 900 new jobs to Scotland.
“Scotland has won the natural lottery with its abundant resources of wind, tides and waves, that make our country a world-leader in renewables.”
According to the study, every 1MW of wind-power capacity installed can generate £100,000 for the local community and £700,000 for the wider economy.
It also claims that sufficient investment would see a further 15,500 jobs created by 2020.