JOBS in Scotland’s renewable energy sector rocketed by more than 50% in 2021, research has indicated.

The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) says the industry supported 42,000 jobs compared with 27,000 in the previous year.

Experts estimated the impact of green energy generation using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), finding 13,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs are directly employed in the industry, accounting for £6.1 billion in turnover.

However, the report also found the number of jobs supported in the supply chain of the sector was much higher, sitting at more than 42,000 FTE, as well as producing output of £10.1 billion and £4.7 billion of gross value added – a measure of worth to the economy.

The report estimated that onshore wind supported the most jobs with 12,030, followed by 10,120 in offshore wind, 7220 in renewable heat and 5605 in hydropower.

Offshore wind powered the most activity across the Scottish economy, generating more than £4 billion, followed by onshore wind with £3.4bn and hydropower with £1.2bn. 

Scottish Renewables says it demonstrates the growing economic value from harnessing the sector.

READ MORE: Ofgem set to increase energy price cap in April

The industry body commissioned the research because it says there's no reliable government statistics that reflect the industry's growth.

There remain calls for more robust official data gathering. The renewables sector is not currently defined in the national accounts, meaning the report carries a “moderately large margin of error”. 

The FAI said: “More robust and timely production of renewables data by the UK and/or Scottish Government would allow for more meaningful between-year and between-technology comparisons of these estimates.”

Earlier this year Government figures showed renewables generated a record amount of electricity for the UK in 2022, with Scotland providing around a quarter of the UK's overall renewable output. 

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "The renewable energy industry is the biggest economic opportunity we have in Scotland.

"While our members continue to focus on delivering the projects we will need to meet our climate ambitions, as an industry we want to clearly demonstrate how we are benefiting not only Scotland's but the UK's economies as we transition to a net-zero future."

The largest number of roles are in construction, which relies heavily on the continued growth of renewables projects.

The report also shows that the renewable energy industry and its supply chain generated more than £10 billion of output in 2021 – almost double the previous year’s figure.

Offshore wind is expected to grow even more in the coming years.

READ MORE: The inside story of how Westminster snubbed Scotland from an AI summit

The most recent leasing round of the seabed from Crown Estates Scotland saw 17 more licences awarded covering 7000 sq km.

Professor Mairi Spowage, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: "Our latest report shows the significant contribution that renewables make to Scotland's economy.

"These opportunities include the potential for technological development, new export markets and prosperity for rural parts of Scotland that may otherwise be left behind in the transition away from fossil fuels."