Opinion: First Minister, Alex Salmond

THE last 12 months have seen us make great strides across the range of technologies in realising Scotland's massive green energy potential - both onshore and offshore.

The year began with plans unveiled for almost 5 gigawatts of offshore wind off Scotland's east coast - in addition to the Scottish Territorial Waters lease agreements for nearly 6 gigawatts of development - and ended with Mitsubishi Power Systems' recent decision to invest up to 100 million in Scotland for research and development into offshore turbine technology.

Just as the first year of the decade has delivered key developments for our low carbon economy, the next 12 months will see yet more progress towards our 2020 vision for Scotland to become the green energy powerhouse of Europe.

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The target for 2020 is to produce the equivalent of 80 per cent of our gross annual electricity demand from renewables. I am confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables alone, with the aim of increasing exports of clean, green energy to many times our domestic needs by the middle of the century. It is a fantastic energy "high road" for Scotland to be travelling, bringing jobs at home and significant benefits for the wider world.

Official figures last week showed that in 2009, for the first year ever, Scotland produced more than a quarter - in fact 27.4 per cent - of our entire electricity needs from renewables. And we exported a quarter of Scotland's electricity, underlining the extent of our nation's energy wealth.

Since coming to office in 2007, the SNP Government and our agencies have made real progress in creating the best conditions possible for renewable energy development, underpinning our world-leading action on climate change.

We have given consent to 36 major renewables projects - more than double the figure for the previous Lab/Lib Dem administration.

And we have moved effectively to support the mobilisation of commercial electricity generation offshore.

Offshore wind alone could create some 28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in related industries, and contribute more than 7 billion of investment to the Scottish economy by 2020.

Despite the tremendous progress we have made in many areas, working closely with utilities and leading-edge developers, we have been held back in other areas - notably where energy policy responsibilities remain reserved to Westminster.David Cameron may have declared his wish for the Tory-Lib Dem coalition to be "the greenest government ever", but unfortunately the UK Government is failing to live up to that lofty title.

The Scottish Government works closely and constructively with Westminster's Department of Energy and Climate Change, but on a number of key issues - epitomised by the Treasury's negative treatment of Scotland's 200 million Fossil Fuel Levy funds - our endeavours continue to be undermined.

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In 2011, the Scottish Government, the renewables industry and investors also expect to see details from the UK Government on how the proposed Green Investment Bank can help accelerate the flow of private finance into the sector - a resource which should clearly be additional to Scotland's Fossil Fuel Levy, not instead of it.