Claims that a ‘green industry’ will emerge from the growth of renewables in the UK have been savaged as “economically illiterate” by a leading economist speaking at the annual conference of the country’s governing Conservative Party.

Michael Pollitt, assistant director of the ESRC Electricity Policy Research Group at Cambridge University, told an energy debate at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that “green jobs are a nonsense”.

He described jobs in the renewable energy sector as “some of the most expensive jobs we have ever created”. “There are only a relatively small number of people in these jobs,” he added.

Renewables “undermined our electricity market” and are helping set the UK on a path towards “a centrally planned electricity system”, he said.

“As an economist, there are better policies about that are not so expensive,” he said.

At a separate meeting, UK energy minister Charles Hendry underscored how the nuclear sector could provide jobs. With Britain on track to greenlight several nuclear new build projects, he stressed it was vital that the UK had the future staff for these projects.

“We have to enthuse a generation of young people about nuclear energy,” he said. But he stressed that most of the employment at nuclear plants is not nuclear engineering. “About 90 per cent is traditional engineering,” he said.

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