By Gemma Childe on 27th Apr 2012
Around 400,000 green jobs could be supported by the renewable energy industry in the UK by 2020, according to a report.
The industry, which currently supports 110,000 jobs, is worth £12.5bn a year to the economy, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consultants Innovas.
Low-carbon generation and energy efficiency could create as many as five million jobs across the EU by 2020, the European Commission said.
Gaynor Hartnell, the REA's chief executive, said: "Harnessing our renewables creates employment, and means that rather than spending money on energy imports we can keep it circulating in the UK economy.
"When it comes to the employment, economic and energy challenges we face, the answer is clear - make it renewable, and make it in Britain."
The report comes as the UK prepares to host the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting, which brings ministers from 23 nations to London for two days of discussions on low-carbon energy and related topics.
The REA also calculated that renewable energy generated exports of just under £1.6bn in 2010/11, with wind technology the biggest contributor.
The reports are the first all-inclusive analysis of the economic and employment benefits of the UK industry.
The renewable energy sector grew by 11 per cent between 2009/10 and 2010/11, compared with overall UK growth of just 1.4 per cent, it found.
The analysts calculated that meeting the Government's target of generating 15 per cent of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020 would see the country spend £60bn less on importing fossil fuels.
Greg Barker, the climate change minister, said: "Renewable energy not only provides us with clean and secure energy that cuts our reliance on imported fossil fuels, it generates billions of pounds of investment and potentially hundreds and thousands of jobs and is a key growth sector for the UK economy.
"The REA's report sets out plainly the opportunities and challenges in this area. We are determined to seize the momentum and secure maximum benefit for the UK."