Scotland’s renewable electricity target for the next decade is being raised from 50% to 80%. First Minister Alex Salmond has confirmed the Scottish Government’s increased national target – now 80% of Scottish electricity consumption to come from renewables by 2020 – ahead of a major international conference – Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference – next week to help accelerate investment in the growing low carbon economy.
Scotland’s existing target was established in 2007 and, aided by a rapid expansion in wind power, the country is on course to exceed its interim target of 31% in 2011.
The Scottish Government has now calculated that significantly higher levels of renewables could be deployed by 2020 with little change to the current policy, planning or regulation framework in Scotland.
“Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, where Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe’s potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource. We are already on the path to a low carbon economy – Scotland gets nearly a quarter of it electricity from green sources,” Alex Salmond explains. “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.”
Recent work by Scottish Enterprise has shown the huge potential for employment in the renewable industry, with up to 28,000 direct jobs being 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 low carbon industries.
Scotland already has 7 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around the country. “Given the scale of lease agreements now in place to develop offshore wind, wave and tidal projects over the next decade it is clear that we can well exceed the existing 50% target by 2020,” he points out. “The global imperative to cut emissions, coupled with rapid advances in energy efficiency and production, mean the global economy of 2050 will be vastly different from today’s. However, the next ten years is the decisive decade for determining the shape, scale and pace of the renewable revolution and the transition to a low carbon future.”