Scots offshore wind farm revolution has created just 6% of jobs forecast by ministers

Scots offshore wind farm revolution has created just 6% of jobs forecast by ministers

The Herald, Exclusive by Martin Williams

SCOTLAND'S forecast of a jobs bonanza from the offshore wind farm revolution has been described as "a pipe dream" as it emerged it has created just 6% of the 28,000 direct jobs predicted by this year.

New official estimates state that there were just 1,700 full-time jobs in the offshore wind sector in Scotland, a fraction of the numbers projected by ministers by 2020.

The Scottish Government's low carbon strategy published in 2010 which described the large scale development of offshore wind as representing the "biggest opportunity for sustainable economic growth in Scotland for a generation" with Scotland having an estimated 25% of Europe's offshore wind potential It said there was a potential for the creation of 28,000 direct jobs and £7.1 billion investment by 2020.

A Unite Scotland source said: "It is scandalous. These figures are truly unbelievable."

It comes as concerns remain over Scotland losing out on multi-million pound contracts for Scotland 's wind farm revolution - after a ministerial summit convened to end the "scandal" of Scots green jobs going abroad promised action.

It was confirmed that Paris-based GE Renewable Energy, a division of the Boston-based multinational General Electric, has been awarded a major project in the creation of one of the country’s biggest offshore wind farms, the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG). And it was working collaboratively with two Dutch-based companies on the offshore wind farm project which is now being jointly run by French state energy giant EDF and state owned Irish energy company ESB.

READ MORE: Minister wind farm summit pledge over Scots renewables jobs "scandal"

In November, the Herald revealed Scotland had already missed out on hundreds of millions of pounds of work in the creation of the wind farm off the Fife coast, before the latest development with unions furious at the way NnG is being handled.

At the time of the 2010 strategy, it was said that Scotland had the natural resources to become the "green energy powerhouse of Europe" and said: "It is critical that Scotland exploits the opportunities being made available by the offshore wind industry."

HeraldScotland:

The report was supported by John Swinney, now deputy first minister, and then cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth who said in the report that the transition of Scotland's industries and firms to low carbon processes, products and services is both an "economic and environmental imperative, and offers the potential to stimulate and exploit rapidly expanding global markets".

But the latest estimates by the Office for National Statistics last month reveal that 1,700 full time jobs relied directly on the offshore wind sector in Scotland in 2018. That is a rise of 1000 from 2014.

Analysis for the Scottish Government in advance of the 2010 strategy by IPA Economics identified the worst of four scenarios which was described as "low delivery of energy" with "unrealised economic benefits" where additional jobs created in the offshore wind sector failed to reach 1000 by 2020.

READ MORE: Scotland loses again in £2bn wind farm boom after ministers pledge action

In October, the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council, co-chaired by energy minister Paul Wheelhouse put forward a strategy to boost offshore wind capacity by the end of this decade which would be enough to power every household in Scotland twice over and to boost the local content of projects.

Details of the plan show that that the ambitions have scaled down since 2010 - with a desire to boost the number of offshore wind jobs to "more than 6,000" by 2030 - just over a fifth of the forecast for 2020.

HeraldScotland:

The details emerged as attempts by one union to get details of the number of jobs relying on offshore wind farms through Crown Estate Scotland and the Scottish Government failed - because they did not hold the information.

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty said: "The latest data highlights that direct employment is around 2,000 jobs when a greens jobs bonanza of 28,000 was promised ten years ago by the Scottish Government.

"We now have definite proof that this has been a pipe dream. Billions of pounds worth of renewables contracts are being awarded with minimal benefits to local and regional supply chains which is why urgent action must be taken to enforce local content clauses in all contracts...."

“It’s also absolutely staggering that based on how important the offshore wind sector is to the Scottish economy that the Scottish Government doesn’t have a clear idea what is exactly going on in relation to job creation because they don’t hold the information."

The latest jobs figures have come off the back of the "scandal" of Scotland's green revolution being increasingly placed in foreign hands.

In November, the Herald revealed Scotland had already missed out on hundreds of millions of pounds of work in the creation of the wind farm off the Fife coast, before the latest development with unions furious at the way NnG is being handled.

HeraldScotland:

Unions have criticised what they saw as “the scraps off the table” that Scotland has received in the NnG project as the Herald revealed Scotland lost important NnG project work to England, Germany, Finland and France.

Last month, GE Renewable Energy confirmed it is overseeing the project for the design, supply, construction and commissioning of onshore and offshore wind substations for the NnG development.

It will be responsible for the delivery of all infrastructure within the perimeter of the project, including ground works and civil construction.

And the French firm says it will act in a "consortium arrangement" with two Dutch firms, platform construction experts HSM Offshore BV and engineering company IV-One.

READ MORE: Scotland left with 'scraps off table' in £2bn wind farm boom

That news came on the day of a summit over what union chiefs describe over the "renewables scandal" led to new measures promised by the Scottish government designed to increase the number of offshore wind contracts staying in Scotland.

The government announced that developers will have to agree on supply-chain commitments when applying for offshore wind leases in an effort to protect domestic jobs.

Meanwhile, the Herald understands it has still not been decided whether Scotland will get a cut of a key contract to build the 54 steel foundation jackets which anchor the turbines to the seabed. It has been proposed that eight might be built in Scotland with the rest being constructed in south east Asia.

HeraldScotland:

The £640m Saipem turbine jackets deal will mean Canadian-owned Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) yards in Arnish and Fife continuing to lose out in the “green manufacturing revolution” getting no more than an estimated 15% of the valuable and crucial manufacturing work. Saipem will also supply and install an additional two jackets for offshore substation.

BiFab, which employs around 1,400 workers was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government with a loan valued at £37.4m, but then was purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes, although hundreds of jobs were shed.

The workforce is now estimated to then stand at just 115 So far the only new confirmed jobs Scotland would gain is 50 over 25 years, at a new maintenance base at Eyemouth harbour.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The 2010 report included a range of possible scenarios based on robust industry data available at that time – a time when the support mechanism for offshore wind looked very different to now.

“UK Government policy has undermined the ability of offshore wind developers to utilise the local supply chain, because its focus is on price alone, rather than taking into account value created for the economy.

“For our part, we are using all devolved powers at our disposal to maximise economic and jobs potential from Scotland’s enormous renewable energy resources – which will be vital to meeting both Scotland’s and the UK’s net zero emissions targets.

“We help to fund the ONS Low Carbon and Renewable Economy Survey and our analysts work to ensure the design and methodology of the survey is as robust as possible.”

Read Article

Other news

Want to talk with the team?

Get in touch