UK low carbon and renewables turnover stalls for six years

UK Office for National Statistics data shows low carbon and renewables turnover was £41.2bn in 2020 and showed 'no significant change' since 2014

The need to accelerate the energy transition has been dramatically underlined by ONS figures which showed no significant increase in the turnover of the UK's low carbon and renewable energy sectors between 2014 and 2020.

Turnover was estimated to be £41.2bn in 2020, with "no significant change since 2014" when the survey began, the ONS reported. Employment in the the sector was estimated to be 207,800 full-time equivalent (FTE) in 2020, again showing little discernible change.

Businesses with 250 or more employees saw a decrease of 6% turnover and 3% employment in their low carbon-related activities between 2019 and 2020.

Those classified within the manufacturing, energy supply and construction industries accounted for 84% of all UK low carbon and renewables turnover in 2020, and 77% of all the sector's employment.

The energy efficient products (excluding energy efficient lighting) and low emission vehicles sectors remained the largest sectors in the low carbon and renewables economy in 2020, accounting for £12.1bn (29%) and £6.8bn (16%) of turnover respectively. 

The data further illustrates the dilemmas facing governments as energy demand outpaces clean energy supply - thereby using more fossil fuels and generating more greenhouse gas emissions, notes a recent S&P Global Platts report. It forecasts 2022 will be a record year for C02 emissions despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the world's energy transition efforts.

"Perhaps the greatest challenge of the energy transition is moving beyond the increase of wind and solar generation and electric vehicles, to reducing emissions in sectors that are more difficult to decarbonise, such as aviation and marine transport," it notes.

McKinsey research indicates that to get on a pathway to lower emissions - pathways such as the one defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as likely to limit further atmospheric warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius - additional investments will be needed of about €595 billion per year between 2021–30.

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