A new study reveals that the UK’s half-century legacy as a major offshore oil and gas hub will be overshadowed by the North Sea’s fast-growing green energy sector over the next decade.
An academic study by Robert Gordon University, located in the oil capital of Aberdeen in Scotland, shows that by 2030, the majority of UK offshore energy jobs will be in the low-carbon energy industry.
Green jobs off the coast of the UK are likely to grow from 20% of the country’s marine energy sector to 65% by the end of the decade, an “important change in the offshore energy industry”.
Nearly half of jobs in the UK’s offshore energy industry will be supported by the wind energy sector, which is the largest in the world and could create up to 90,000 jobs by 2030 under a new agreement with the government to support a quadrupling of wind energy.
Meanwhile, a fifth of marine energy jobs in 2030, or 40,000 jobs, will be in other clean energy sectors, such as producing hydrogen from renewable energy or capturing and storing carbon emissions from factories and heavy industries under the seabed.
The number of jobs supported by the oil and gas industry in the North Sea is expected to fall to 40% of all offshore energy jobs, or just over a third of the total, as the oil industry continues to shrink.
The results are a milestone in the British North Sea industry, which has been financially prosperous for decades and has supported a large number of jobs in the British economy, producing billions of barrels of oil since the industry’s height in the 1970s.
But Professor Paul de Leo, Director of Robert Gordon University and lead author of the report, said the move to green energy job creation represented a “tangible prize” for the UK, as employees currently in the oil and gas sector would be able to transfer their skills to cleaner sectors.
“With the many skills and competencies needed to make the offshore energy sector highly interchangeable, the energy transition presents a unique opportunity to create a new, world-class energy-free workforce,” he said.
Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the government’s latest agreement with the North Sea industry “will ensure we have a UK energy skills base suitable for the future”, while the Green Jobs Task Force will provide advice on how to build the skilled workforce needed for a low-carbon economy.