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Capital Green Talent

30 Nov 2010 08:11:00

150,000 solar jobs in the UK by 2016?

I started researching the UK solar job market in March 2009. The first website I go to when trying to get a handle on the number of jobs in a certain sector is that of a "job aggregator"; in simple terms, the website has technology which finds jobs with certain keywords on multiple job boards, career sections of corporate websites, and so on, and brings them back into their site.

In March 2009, when searching using the keyword "solar" on the website, 700 jobs came back. Eighteen months later, the same search came back with 3400 jobs. You don't need to be a mathematician or a management consultant to spot there is a trend.

While job aggregator sites can't be used to give an accurate guide on the precise amount of "live and real" jobs in a market (there are too many duplicates, for example), the percentage increase from March 2009 to November 2010 is startling. We can safely assume that there not be many other "jobs" seeing such a massive increase as we battle our way through recession.

The above figures reflect the last eighteen months; what's the future going to bring for the UK solar job market? Here is what some in the market are saying.

In October, the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network (ESP KTN) forecast that the UK solar electricity industry could providing 150,000 jobs by 2016. Personally, I think the ESP KTN figures are vastly inflated, and anyone with an acronym that long needs to be carefully considered. One only needs to consider that the entire German solar industry is reported to employ around 150,000 people.

However, I feel much more realistic figures presented in a report in June by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) claiming in excess of 100,000 people could be employed in the installation of solar across the country by 2030. When we look beyond installation, up and down stream would think the entire UK solar industry could be employing around 140,000.

OK – not much need to talk more about the numbers, anyone involved in the UK solar industry today will already have a good feeling that we are on the start of a massive wave (a green tsunami!). How big, only time will tell. However with growth comes growing pains, and already I am witnessing them.

How big do you think it will get?

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