SCOTLAND’S onshore wind sector accounted for more than half of the UK’s turnover in the field in 2014, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Scotland generated £1.6 billion (55.9 per cent) compared to England (£905m), Northern Ireland (£189m) and Wales (£150m).

However, although onshore wind turnover was higher in Scotland, the total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the sector was lower than in England.

This was mainly due to the high amount of electricity generation from onshore wind in Scotland, which has an infrastructure that needs fewer employees.

England’s FTE total was higher by comparison because it had more manufacturing and design activities, which are more labour-intensive.

In 2014, about 3,000 businesses were operating in the sector, which employed 6,500 people across the UK – 3,000 in England, 2,500 in Scotland, and 500 each in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The data came from a new ONS survey launched last year to examine the low-carbon and renewable energy (LCRE) economy. It published the first results in December and the final results are due for publication next month. They showed that firms operating in the UK onshore wind sector accounted for 3.1 per cent of LCRE businesses.

Lang Banks, director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, told The National: “These figures underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs.

“However, if we are to enjoy all the benefits that would come from an entirely renewable power sector we need to see a clear energy strategy from [the] next Scottish Government that gets behind this inevitable transition away from thermal power.

“By adopting a strategy that majors on flexibility, demand reduction and storage, Scotland could become the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030.

“With opinion polling showing that over 70 per cent of people see clear economic benefits from renewable energy, it’s clear this is an approach that the public could get behind.”

The ONS said the onshore wind sector also invested £1.4bn in LCRE capital assets in 2014, which accounted for 15.5 per cent of the total acquisitions.

Only 3.1 per cent of businesses operating in the LCRE economy in 2014 were in the onshore wind sector in a primary or secondary capacity, a figure the ONS said was small when compared with the solar power sector at 19.7 per cent.

It said this was mainly because there were many firms generating electricity from solar panels and receiving feed-in tariffs (FITs) whose main activity fell outside the scope of the LCRE economy. The example it gave was farmers utilising land to generate income from solar panels.

The onshore wind sector also benefited the wider economy, importing £141m of goods and services in 2014, which was 2.4 per cent of total LCRE imports. Many of these imported goods were likely to have been components of wind turbines and therefore also included acquisitions of capital assets estimates.

Turnover in the UK’s onshore wind sector, £2.8bn, was 6.1 per cent of total LCRE turnover and slightly higher than the solar sector (£2.5bn).

According to the ONS this was mainly due to more electricity being generated from onshore wind than solar panels.

In 2014, a total of 19.1 per cent of UK electricity generation came from renewable sources, with 64.7 terawatt hours (TWh) generated.

The onshore wind sector accounted for 28.7 per cent of this, with 18.6 TWh. In comparison, the solar sector accounted for 6.3 per cent of electricity from renewables, with 4.1 TWh.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has made great progress in increasing the amount of green electricity in our energy mix and annually we are now producing double the amount we did in 2006.”