There has been a 74% rise in jobs in the wind, wave and tidal energy sector since 2010 according to a report from trade body for the wind and marine renewables sector RenewableUK and Energy & Utility Skills.
These sectors now directly employ 18,465 full time with another 15,908 indirectly employed - 91% of who are UK citizens - and RenewableUK says there could be another 70,000 jobs created over the next ten years, half of them in offshore wind.
The number of jobs in offshore wind alone has doubled since 2010 the trade body says in an update of its 2010 report 'Working for a Green Britain and Northern Ireland'. These numbers mean that the wind, wave and tidal energy sectors now employ more than three times as many as are employed in the UK coal industry.
Biggest growth came from the offshore wind sector where direct jobs more than doubled from 3,151 to 6,830. The biggest rise in job types was in construction and installation, with an additional 2,500 employed.
The report was compiled by Cambridge Econometrics with IFF Research and the Warwick Institute for Employment Research. It says that women make up 20% of this sector's workforce, which is lower than the proportion of women in technical and professional occupations nationally, but as it is proportionately higher than in the power sector overall this shows the sector is being successful in attracting women into the energy industry.
Small and medium enterprises are said to be driving the growth in employment, with those employing fewer than 250 people accounting for 80% of all employers and 56% employing fewer than 25 people.
The report shows that 30% of the workforce is engaged on construction and installation, 25% in planning and development, 18% in support services, 16% in operations and maintenance, and 10% in manufacturing. The current job split between sectors is large onshore wind 6,609 full time employees; medium onshore wind 838; small-scale onshore wind 2,464; offshore wind 6,830 and tidal 1,724.
RenewableUK's Chief Executive Maria McCaffrey said the UK was building a world leading industry while creating jobs and growth for the economy. She said: 'As an industry we are truly creating jobs out of fresh air.' Ms McCaffrey warned however that further growth could not be taken for granted as under the less optimistic growth scenarios in the report growth could be stunted, with offshore wind actually seeing a fall in numbers employed. The industry needed certainty from governments on future levels of deployment of wind, wave and tidal energy over the next decade.
* RenewableUK has also launched a Skills Manifesto calling for government to provide certainty to the industry, to streamline and coordinate funding and target it to where it is most needed and to provide financial incentives to encourage students into STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).