UK could be home to 24 million clean energy prosumers by 2050, says report

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The number of active participants in the U.K. energy market is forecast to grow to 24 million by 2050 as Europe’s "energy citizens" mobilize on the back of cheaper and more distributed power, says the European Renewable Energies Foundation.

The foundation published a report yesterday in which it expects the number of British prosumers to increase significantly from the approximately one million recognized in 2015, playing a more active role in the nation’s energy market by either introducing new revenue or making savings.

As the adoption of solar PV, wind, electric vehicles, battery storage and even e-boilers grows among regular consumers, British prosumers will make up a sizable portion of the estimated 264 million European energy citizens that will generate 45% of the European Union’s electricity needs by 2050, the report finds.

Renewable energy’s growing importance in the British power landscape is also reflected in recent employment figures that show the number of people working in the sector in 2014/15 in the U.K. was 117,000, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA) – a growth of 6.1% year-on-year, which is more than double average U.K. economic growth.

In light of this strong performance, shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Labour Party’s Barry Gardiner MP, has issued a rallying cry in support of clean energy. Gardiner has pledged to bank fracking completely and create 300,000 renewable energy jobs should Labour come to power in the next general election.

"We fully agree that Labour’s forecast for the potential of 300,000 jobs, at least," said the REA’s chief executive Nina Skorupska. "The industry already employs over 115,000 people and has been growing at a rate twice as fast as the economy overall."

Speaking more broadly, Skorupska added that the U.K. – despite recent regressive cuts to its solar subsidy scheme – can be a core player in renewable and clean tech research, finance and deployment as the world begins making efforts to abide by the Paris Agreement.

"The decentralized nature of renewables means that a variety of skilled work will be required across the length and breadth of the U.K.," she said.

"Decentralized energy also offers a new source of savings or revenue. Over one million people in the U.K. are already doing so through solar PV, storage, EVs and other tech, and there is potential for up to 24 million of these energy citizens by 2050."