Renewable energy firms 'looking to hire more staff'

Wind turbine The survey suggested onshore and offshore wind were the sector's biggest sources of employment

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More than half of companies working in the renewable energy sector in Scotland are looking to hire staff this year, according to a survey.

The research, commissioned by industry body Scottish Renewables, also suggested a record 11,700 people were working full-time in the sector.

That was 5% more than the previous year's study.

Scottish Renewables said the results showed "a huge amount of positivity" about the sector's future.

The survey indicated Glasgow, the Lothians, Highlands and Islands and the north east topped the list of regions employing the most people, while onshore wind (39%), offshore wind (21%), marine and bioenergy (both 9%) were the most notable sources of employment.

Of the 540 companies surveyed, 54% said they would be looking to employ more people in the next 12 months.

A further 42% said their employment levels would stay the same and only 1.6% expected them to fall.

'Steady growth'

Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Joss Blamire said: "These latest figures show the renewables industry has seen steady growth in the number of people being employed despite an uncertain year.

"The breadth of job opportunities for project managers, ecologists and engineers has led to a wide range of people seeing renewable energy as a sector where they can use their skills and training."

However, Mr Blamire warned that the industry could not afford to become complacent.

He added: "The survey also found that market reforms in the electricity sector, planning issues and connecting projects to the grid were all cited as potential barriers that could get in the way of future growth."

Environmental campaign group WWF Scotland welcomed the figures.

Head of Policy Sam Gardner said: "This report underlines the fact that not only is Scotland's renewable sector cutting climate emissions and meeting 40% of our electricity needs, it is also an increasingly important employer across Scotland.

"Although there are no offshore wind farms currently under construction in Scottish waters it is already the second biggest employer across the whole industry, hinting at the huge opportunity ahead for Scotland in this sector."

He added: "With careful planning and responsible development, we can harness the enormous energy resource of our seas, create thousands more jobs, and play an essential role in the journey to a low carbon economy."

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