Scotland on track to hit tough targets on renewable energy

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MORE than a quarter of Scotland's electricity came from renewable sources last year, new figures have revealed, putting the country on track to meet ambitious energy generation targets.

In the Energy Trends report, the Scottish Government revealed that 27 per cent of Scotland's electricity came from wind, hydro or other green power plants in 2009, while gross electricity consumption north of the border dropped by 4 per cent compared to the previous year.

The report was published as Holyrood's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee raised concerns over the funding of measures needed to meet climate change targets.

Scotland has the most ambitious climate change targets in the world and aims to generate 80 per cent of its electricity from green sources by 2020 - with an interim target of 31 per cent by next year.

"It is clear to the committee that a lot of work has been done to get us where we are today on how we respond to climate change," said committee convener, Green MSP Patrick Harvie, warning that there needed to be "more alignment" between government policies set down in the government's Low Carbon Scotland report and next year's Draft Budget.

"However, it is time to start acting on not only the delivery of existing policies, but on bringing forward new measures. Otherwise there is a real risk emission reduction targets will not be met," he added.

The renewable energy figures were unveiled by new climate change minister Roseanna Cunningham, who took over the role following the resignation of transport and climate change minister Stewart Stevenson earlier this month. The title of transport minister was passed on to Kevin Brown, while Ms Cunningham is to also retain her role as environment minister.

"Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, and the figures follow a steady trend towards Scotland's energy becoming greener and cleaner," said Ms Cunningham.

She called for a "fairer" transmission charging regime for Scotland and renewed First Minister Alex Salmond's calls for Scotland to be given consideration in the UK Government's proposals to reform the electricity market.

"The next ten years will be decisive for determining the pace of the renewable revolution and the transition to a low carbon future," she added.Scotland currently boasts 4 GW of installed renewables capacity, with a further three under construction, and Jenny Hogan, Scottish Renewables director of policy, said Scotland's renewables industry had grown "faster and further" than expected.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at WWF Scotland, welcomed the figures, but said further investment in renewable heat technology was needed, while Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur MSP warned against government complacency.