The future of Australian industry is visible in Scotland where the green revolution was supposed to generate hundreds of thousands of new, well-paid green jobs. A longish piece but full of meat and a grim warning for us.
In summary, the massive expansion of windfarms in Britain was funded by Britain and built in China using cheap coal power (ignore the reference to dirty power). There was some work in Scotland early in the piece but now those facilities are wastelands.
FROM THE ARTICLE
Shortly before losing office in 2010, the former prime minister Gordon Brown went further, boasting that Britain’s offshore industry was already ‘ahead of every other country’ in the world.
In his glittering green future, offshore wind alone would generate ‘up to 70,000 jobs by 2020’.
The pledges continued under David Cameron’s coalition. In 2011, the Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne, later jailed for lying over a speeding conviction, addressed the annual conference of RenewableUK, the green energy lobby group.
‘Renewable energy technologies will deliver a third industrial revolution,’ he said, ‘blazing a trail of start-ups and jobs.’
Nowhere was the hyperbole quite so extreme as in Scotland where the former SNP first minister Alex Salmond boasted that the country would become ‘the Saudi Arabia’ of renewables.
His deputy, John Swinney, claimed building wind farms off the Scottish coast would create ‘28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 indirect jobs in related industries by 2020’. In Methil, the promises have turned to dust.
Certainly, since 2010, there have been plenty of new offshore windfarms. Britain’s capacity has doubled to 10 gigawatts, and under Mr Johnson’s 10 Point Plan For A Green Industrial Revolution, which he launched last November, it is set to quadruple again by 2030 — so creating (of course!) ‘tens of thousands’ of new manufacturing jobs.
In 2018, Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Unite trade union revealed that far from the promised 28,000 Scottish manufacturing jobs in offshore wind, there were just 1,700. And since then, the situation has deteriorated.
Last month, Scotland’s only factory making turbine towers, at Campbeltown in Argyll, closed permanently.
So no one is making offshore towers in Britain, although turbine blades are still made at the Danish firm Vestas on the Isle of Wight, and Siemens Gamesa in Hull.
As for solar energy, Britain’s only large panel factory, in Wrexham in Wales, shut down in 2013, with the loss of 615 jobs.
A report by Strathclyde University last June said that in 2019 there were 1,190 full-time Scottish manufacturing jobs across all types of renewable energy, including hydro power, solar, onshore and offshore wind, and a further 1,000 ‘indirectly’ employed in the renewables supply chain.