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UK wind industry jobs growth potential 'at risk'

Britain risks missing out on tens of thousands of jobs and failing to hit its renewable energy target unless the state steps in to rescue the struggling wind power industry, the Government will be warned today.

A rapid expansion of wind power and the development of major offshore farms are crucial in the Government's efforts to meet its legally binding target of producing 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. But the spiralling costs of importing wind turbines and problems raising capital have put some major projects planned for the next decade in jeopardy.

Last month, Iberdrola Renewables decided to cut its investment in Britain by more than £300m. Shell has also pulled out of the London Array offshore project, which would be the biggest offshore wind farm in the world if completed.

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, published today, says that an offshore wind investment programme is urgently needed, while as many as 70,000 jobs could be created if the Government is prepared to provide financial backing for offshore projects.

It has found that, despite having huge potential for offshore wind energy production, Britain currently looks set to miss out on the jobs and export potential that the development of the industry will create across the world. Only 700 people work in the industry at present, while the UK is home to just one company that makes parts for wind turbines.