BRUSSELS, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Employment in the wind power industry will more than double in the European Union to around 330,000 in 2020, according to a report issued on Tuesday.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) also called for greater investment in the renewable energy sector as governments seek to stimulate economic recovery.
“Wind power not only has the potential to satisfy the increasing electricity demand in a sustainable manner, it is also a significant and vital stimulus to economies,” EWEA Chief Executive Christian Kjaer said.
About 12 percent of European Union electricity is expected to come from wind power by 2020 as part of the bloc’s plan to fight climate change and to curb dependence on imports of gas and oil from exporters like Russia.
“Russia plays with the taps every New Year,” said Kjaer. “It’s not going to get any easier, and we can’t carry on handing all this wealth to a handful of fossil fuel exporting nations.”
The wind energy sector directly employed 108,600 people in 2007, with 59 percent of them in turbine and component manufacturing and the rest largely in installation, maintenance, project development and research, the EWEA report said.
A further 42,700 people were indirectly employed.
Germany, Spain and Denmark, home to several companies that pioneered the technology, have benefited from three-quarters of this employment, much of it focused in areas like Denmark’s Esbjerg and Spain’s Navarre region.
Kjaer predicted the sector would be one of the first to emerge from the current economic crisis, as it provided an attractive risk profile for investors who recently lost money on risky investments.
“There will be a market for medium-risk, medium-return investments, and that’s where the wind sector is,” he said. (Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Sue Thomas)