Almost 80% of workers in the Scottish oil industry are open to retraining in the renewable energy sector, according to a survey.

This comes as oil and gas firms are looking to reduce their emissions and the North Sea, which is synonymous with Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels, aims to become a net-zero basin.

But with a coronavirus-led drop in fuel demand along with the anticipated acceleration of electric vehicles and low-carbon heating alternatives, Oil and Gas UK has warned up to 30,000 jobs could be lost across the UK industry by 2022.

The survey, which was conducted by industry body Scottish Renewables, has shown that 80% of oil and gas workers in Scotland have “considered their career’s future” – and that more than 77% are “positive about retraining to join the renewable energy industry”.

Scottish Renewables’ CEO, Claire Mack, said the renewable energy industry provides an “enormous opportunity for those working in oil and gas who may be facing redundancy and unemployment.

“These professionals possess a high level of skills and expertise which, with the right support from government to create a clear pipeline of projects to meet our climate change targets, can be utilised to help develop and grow the renewable energy workforce we will need.”


Industry body calls for a ‘Renewables Transition Training Fund’

Scottish Renewables’ survey also showed that 86% of oil and gas professionals would welcome government support to assist their transition to employment within the renewable energy sector.

On releasing the research, Scottish Renewables also called upon the Scottish government to set up a “Renewables Transition Training Fund”.

The industry body believes this would be a key step towards ensuring training is provided specifically to target careers in renewable energy, as the country aims to fulfil its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2045.

To achieve its ambitious target, renewables such as wind and solar – which already make up the equivalent of 90% of Scotland’s electricity demand – are going to play an integral role.

Offshore wind turbine regulations
Scottish Renewables called upon the Scottish government to set up a ‘Renewables Transition Training Fund’ (Credit: Flickr/mmatsuura)

Additionally, Mack claims demand for the renewable energy skills that have been developed in Scotland is “increasing across the globe”, after several countries have committed to a “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This training fund would support oil and gas professionals, supply chain businesses, tradesmen and public servants to acquire sustainable, exportable skills and join our industry,” she added.

“Scotland’s renewable energy sector will play a crucial role in the country’s green recovery, providing employment and investment opportunities and improving health while reducing carbon emissions as we continue our fight against climate change.”


Scottish Renewables’ green economic recovery plan

In June, Scottish Renewables released research that showed the economic boost available if the nation’s government were to use renewable energy to pursue a green recovery from the pandemic.

It claimed that for every gigawatt of renewable power installed in Scotland, there are 1,500 jobs created and £133m ($175m) of gross value is added to its economy.

The industry body said clean energy sources are the country’s “passport to a green economic recovery”, with countries boasting more than £2.9tn ($3.8tn) in combined GDP having already placed a green recovery at the “heart of their post-pandemic response”.

Alongside calls for a Renewable Transition Training Fund, it outlined two further actions the Scottish government could take in partnership with the renewable energy industry.

The body suggested using existing trade, export and investment powers to “boost skills exports to nations seeking to undertake green recoveries”.

It also called for the government to “accelerate the vital transition to clean heat”, by tapping into the “enormous economic opportunity offered by renewable technologies”.

It would do this by using the public estate as a primer to “create supply chains and local manufacturing”.