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Low carbon and renewable energy sectors worth £46.2bn

New government data has revealed that nearly 100,000 businesses now operate in the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy, employing over 238,000 people.

New government figures have revealed that nearly 100,000 businesses now operate in the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy (LCRE) economy, employing over 238,000 people.

The data on the size of the low carbon economy in 2014 comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as part of its first official statistical release under a new reporting regime.

The new regime focuses specifically on businesses in six sectors: low carbon electricity, low carbon heat, energy from waste and biomass, energy efficient products, low carbon services and consultancy, and low emission vehicles.

The data provides a detailed summary of the impact of these sectors on the UK economy.


In total there were around 96,500 low carbon and renewable energy businesses in the UK in 2014, equivalent to 4.4 per cent of non-financial businesses in the country. These businesses generated a total annual turnover of £46.2 billion. 

The data is split down to country level only, with England responsible for the majority of activity and energy efficient products in particular.

According to previous data from 2013, which also included activity from the waste and recycling sectors, the north west plays a particularly strong role in low carbon electricity and energy efficient products.

Sector breakdown

According to the new data, the energy efficient products sector forms the bulk of the low carbon and renewable energy economy, with over 52,000 businesses generating £21.9 billion of turnover. 

The sector includes energy efficient lighting; energy monitoring, saving or control systems; energy efficient doors and windows; heating and ventilation, insulation; sustainable building materials or technologies; and other low impact materials.

Meanwhile, the low carbon electricity sector – which includes onshore and offshore wind, solar PV, hydropower, carbon capture and storage and nuclear – was worth £12.4 billion in 2014. 

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, said the figures showed that renewables are continuing to be an economic success in the UK.

“With more than 40,000 people employed and a turnover of more than £12 billion a year, we are bringing power and prosperity to communities across the UK”, he said.

“Government has decided that in future our electricity will come from gas, nuclear and renewables but not coal, and these figures show that renewables are delivering.”

The majority of exports from low carbon and renewable energy activity came from the low emission vehicles sector (60.4 per cent), suggesting that the UK is becoming a global leader for green vehicles.