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Scotland needs to build offshore turbine every day to save jobs in just transition

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The experts analysed 6,561 possible pathways for the industry between now and 2030 and said only 15 or 0.3% could be considered a “just and fair” transition, meaning that  UK offshore energy industry jobs, energy supply chain investment and the economic contribution from the workforce are retained at 2023 levels. 

READ MORE: Union warns £6.6bn needed now to save 30,000 Scots oil and gas jobs

Given the decline in the oil and gas industry, that transition needs huge growth in the offshore energy renewables sector. 

The report says this will require “a significant increase in activities, improved grid access,  consenting, supply chain capacity and business model development, supported by targeted  government interventions.”

The academics warn that if Scotland fails to “capture a significant share of future renewables activities, selective oil and gas activities may need to be sustained until 2030 to retain the Scotland based offshore energy workforce, skills, supply chain and economic contribution.”

Professor Paul de Leeuw, the director of the institute, said achieving this transition could ultimately require £200 billion worth of spending over the remainder of this decade across offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and oil and gas projects.

He added that the key to unlocking this investment would be “faster planning and consenting and access to the grid.”

The professor said: “We also need more flexible electricity pricing mechanisms to avoid project delays or cancellation and a proactive focus on building UK content so we can design, manufacture, install, commission and operate some of the critical new infrastructure required.

“This, as well as building and maintaining the world class skills and capabilities developed over the last few decades, will be crucial.

“While there is consensus across all stakeholders including governments, politicians, industry organisations and economic development bodies that we need to realise a ‘just and fair’ transition, a far more agile and joined up approach is required to address how the country can best secure its energy ambitions, while addressing the cost-of-living crisis, managing energy security and delivering on the net zero agenda.”

The report authors highlight that every 10% salary differential between oil and renewables may require up to 7% more people to maintain economic contribution.

According to their analysis, close to 1 in 30 of the working population in Scotland are currently employed in or support the offshore energy industry, compared to 1 in 220 across the
UK. 

In the North East, the number is closer to 1 in 5.

“The prize for Scotland is significant,” the report states. “If Scotland is successful in delivering its energy ambitions by 2030, the Scottish based offshore energy workforce is forecast to increase by 25% from 79,000 to close to 100,000.

“However, the consequence for Scotland if it is unsuccessful in capturing the full range of offshore energy and UK content opportunities is that the offshore energy workforce could fall by around 40% (to close to 48,000) in 2030.”

READ MORE: Oil and gas industry being ‘taxed to death’

Mike Tholen Offshore Energies UK sustainability and policy director said the supported the findings of the report: “Our message is simple. Support homegrown energy and recognise the critical role of our existing industries. We need to unlock greater investment to secure jobs, energy security and economic growth.”

 Scotland’s Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan said: “Scotland’s energy transition presents an era-defining opportunity for our economy and people: delivering on our climate obligations, safeguarding our energy security and ensuring a fair and just energy transition for our workforces and the communities they support.

“By working together, with absolute clarity of purpose, we will unlock the vast potential. Indeed, the transition is already happening with Scotland fast becoming a renewables powerhouse.

“The Scottish Government is determined to play its role in maximising these benefits – and negotiating the challenges – not least through the publication of our Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, which will set out our vision for a future energy system that delivers affordable, secure, clean energy and delivers economic benefits to every part of the country.”

A spokesperson for the UK Government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “The UK is the first major economy to halve its emissions, and we are leading the way in our transformation of the energy industry, with £100 billion investment in green industries supporting up to 725,000 jobs by 2030.

“Much of the transferable expertise from offshore energies such as oil and gas will be crucial for the transition to net zero – and our Green Jobs Plan will ensure we have the sufficient skills to tackle emerging and future workforce demands across the economy.”

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