Scotland’s offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs over the next decade, a report has said.
A study found the industry has the potential to add “significant value” to the Scottish economy, contributing £7.1bn of investment by 2020.
The research, commissioned by Scottish Renewables and Scottish Enterprise, also suggested that a further 20,000 jobs could be created in related industries in 10 years’ time.
But it came with a warning that the next four years are “critical” to the success or failure of the Scottish offshore wind industry.
The study, carried out by consultancy firm IPA Energy + Water Economics, is said to be the first comprehensive research into the potential impact of offshore wind on the Scottish economy.
Currently, 463 people are directly employed in the sector north of the border.
Scottish Offshore Wind: Creating an Industry outlines four alternative visions for the industry’s future growth and warns that significant employment will only be achieved with investment in port facilities, grid reinforcement and skills.
Looking at the best-case scenario in terms of job creation, the report suggested an industry on the scale of the oil and gas sector could emerge by 2020.
It said: “In 2020, this creates more than 28,000 full-time equivalent jobs directly in the offshore wind sector. Indirect and induced effects could create another 20,000 jobs in 2020. This compares to the current Scottish energy sector with a total value of £5.5bn in 2007 and 41,900 direct jobs in 2008.”
The report said a concerted effort by the government and industry would be needed to make such a projection a reality.
It warned that failure to do so could result in Scotland developing only a fraction of currently leased sites, with the delivery of only 900 jobs.
“Action will need to be taken to streamline and shorten the consenting and development period for offshore wind projects; to enable access to financial resources; to boost the supply chain and infrastructure development and to establish sufficient grid capacity” it said.
The report concluded “the next few years to 2014 are critical to the success or failure of the Scottish offshore wind industry.”