Renewables transition could create 9,000 Scottish energy-sector jobs by 2030

Around 9,000 extra jobs in the offshore energy sector could be created in North-East Scotland by 2030 if the area receives enough funding to help it transition from fossil fuels to renewables, a report has found.

The study from Robert Gordon University estimated that the workforce could increase to a total of 54,000 by the end of the decade compared to approximately 45,000 today if it becomes established as a 'Global Energy Hub' for offshore wind.

The government’s Energy Security Strategy currently targets 50GW of offshore wind, 10GW of hydrogen and up to 30 million tonnes of carbon capture and storage for the UK as a whole by 2030.

But the report warns that falling short on that goal could see the regional offshore energy workforce decline by up to 40 per cent over the same time frame to as low as approximately 28,000 jobs.

It finds that over £17bn in new regional investments between 2022 and 2030 will be needed to meet the targets in manufacturing and operational capabilities for the renewables sector – focused to a large extent on offshore wind. This is in addition to ongoing oil and gas investments in the region.

In 2021, around 90 per cent of the regional offshore energy workforce was employed in the oil and gas industry with the remaining 10 per cent supporting offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon transportation and storage.

But as part of efforts to become a Global Energy Hub, this balance is expected to shift, with three out of five of the offshore energy jobs in 2030 switching to the renewable energy industry.

Nevertheless, the report finds, sustaining oil and gas jobs over the coming years will be key to ensuring access to people and skills for renewable energy activities from 2026 onwards.

It said it would be “critical” to retain as many of the existing oil and gas jobs as possible over the coming years until sufficient new roles become available in the adjacent energy sectors.

Over 90 per cent of the North-East of Scotland’s existing oil and gas workforce is estimated to have transferrable skills to adjacent energy sectors.

In 2020, an analysis from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult found that the number of jobs in the North Sea energy sector could fall by at least 20 per cent in the near future without urgent investment in the clean technologies.

The Scottish Government’s energy secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, said that £80m in investment would be available for existing oil and gas workers to be supported in their transition into roles in the renewables sector.

He said: “Scotland’s energy sector is at the forefront of our transformation to becoming a net zero nation.

“It is a major employer and source of economic output, and our oil and gas infrastructure and highly skilled workforce have long been at the forefront of energy innovation – which is why it is well placed to embrace the transformation that lies ahead.

“This review demonstrates that, with the right investment, the North-East of Scotland could support nearly 10,000 more offshore energy jobs by 2030 than it currently does, becoming a net-zero, global energy hub that supports existing oil and gas roles into the renewables and low carbon roles of the future.

“We also stand ready with £80m of investment in for the Scottish carbon capture and storage Cluster.”

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