THE UK's wind, wave and tidal energy sector directly employs more than 18,000 full time staff, an industry report said.

In addition, almost 16,000 people are indirectly employed as a result of the green energy industries, in businesses which supply products and services to the sector, the review published by trade body RenewableUK said.

The number of people working in the sector has increased by 74 per cent since 2010 when RenewableUK conducted its study into employment in the wind, wave and tidal power industries.

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The number of employees working in the offshore wind industry alone has more than doubled from 3,151 in 2010 to 6,830 in 2013, the updated report shows.

With 18,465 full time people directly employed in wind, wave and tidal power and 15,908 indirect jobs, the sector supports more than 34,300 jobs across the UK.

People are employed in construction and installation, planning and development, support services, operations and maintenance and manufacturing.

RenewableUK claimed more than 70,000 jobs could be created in the next decade with the right support, almost half of which would be in offshore wind.

The study showed that small and medium sized businesses are key to the renewable power sectors, with 80 per cent of all employers in wind, wave and tidal industries employing fewer than 250 people and 56 per cent employing fewer than 25.

 Maria McCaffery, RenewableUKs chief executive, said: "The offshore wind sector alone could be employing nearly 45,000 workers in the 2020s. As an industry we are truly creating jobs out of fresh air.

"But she warned that further growth should not be taken for granted. The report assesses growth prospects in different scenarios and if there were low deployment of new renewables, offshore wind could actually see a reduction in jobs.

"To really harness the economic benefits of our technologies we must ensure that there is certainty for industry.

"Certainty on future levels of deployment of wind, wave and tidal energy over the next decade will enable firms to invest in the right people and the right skills, and ensure we maximise the number of green collar jobs we create as we transform our electricity system," she said.