UK solar could employ 50,000 people by 2020

The report, authored by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and commissioned by the Solar Trade Association (STA), is the first of its kind to evaluate the macroeconomic benefits of solar deployment – particularly the deployment of large-scale solar.

The report calculates that ground-mounted solar farms could potentially contribute more UK economic value than other low carbon rivals such as nuclear and offshore wind by 2030. In addition, solar farms could create nearly twice as many jobs as new nuclear per kWh generated.

In terms of jobs, the report finds that investment in solar PV could create as many as 49,400 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs through 2014-30. The report calculates that this equals an annual average of 8,800 FTEs employed by large-scale solar.

The report also takes aim at a common criticism that is levelled at solar farm developers, that the money flows abroad to foreign companies rather than staying in the UK. Contrary to this assertion, the report finds that the average UK content of a large-scale solar farm is 63% in 2014.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the STA, explained why policy stability is crucial for the sector, he said: “The potential benefits of solar for the British economy are immense….However, the government risks bursting the bubble, damaging the industry and holding Britain back, because it keeps shifting the goal posts on support for solar. We believe that government support for solar energy should come down gradually, in line with falling costs, until solar electricity is consistently the same price as the market price for electricity. Once we have reached that point – what we call solar independence – solar no longer needs any support and will, with time, bring down energy bills. But it will need stable, gradually declining, support to get there.”

This article has been adapted from an article published by Solar Power Portal.