Salmond: 80% of electricity to be green within a decade
Scotland must generate 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced, raising the target to a new high from the previous level of 50 per cent.
Experts have claimed existing projects in the pipeline to create wave, tidal, wind, hydro or biomass plants north of the Border will be sufficient to meet the new targets - and generate surplus power to be exported overseas.
Mr Salmond made the announcement ahead of an international conference in Edinburgh next week to boost investment in a low-carbon economy.
He said: "Scotland is ideally placed to help lead the renewables revolution and taking account of the levels of planned investment over the next decade, I believe it is now time to aim higher and to go further."
Projects in Scotland which are currently either in operation, under construction or have been granted planning consent will eventually provide about seven gigawatts of electricity.
It is estimated Scotland needs between five and six gigawatts to meet its electricity needs. Industry body Scottish Renewables published its study, Driving the Low Carbon Economy: Reviewing Our Ambitions, just hours before the announcement.
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At its most optimistic, the report suggested renewables could produce the equivalent of 123 per cent of annual demand.
"The increase in Scotland's renewables targets is a massive vote of confidence in the industry and a clear signal that Scotland is serious about harnessing the maximum economic and environmental benefit from the development of renewable energy," said Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables.
He added: "The hard work really starts now. To secure this ambition requires significant investment in new grid connections to export power to the rest of the UK, and a modern charging framework that doesn't penalise generation in Scotland."
Recent research by Scottish Enterprise claimed that 28,000 direct jobs would be created to service the Scottish, UK and worldwide markets for offshore wind turbines.
It has also been estimated that 60,000 new green jobs could be created by 2020 in a range of low-carbon industries. Environmental groups, backed by the Scottish Green Party, welcomed the rise, but said they would continue to lobby for a further rise to 100 per cent.
WWF Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said Scotland could provide a boost to its economy through the export of power.
"With the right renewables in the right places, Scotland can not only provide for our own domestic needs but also become a major exporter of clean, green energy," he said.
Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, added: "Scotland can be a renewables powerhouse for Europe.The old target is no longer driving increased ambition, but instead is creating uncertainty in the industry. An 80 per cent target would be a big improvement, but Scotland can and should commit to producing more than 100 per cent of our domestic electricity from renewables by 2020."
But Lewis Macdonald, Scottish Labour's energy spokesman, pointed to wind energy projects which have been turned down by Scottish ministers.
According to figures published by Scottish Renewables, 3,239MW of potential wind farm developments have been rejected to date.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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