Alex Salmond has announced a hugely ambitious hike over the next decade in the Scottish Government’s target for generating electricity from renewable sources.
The SNP administration now wants 80% of the country’s power to come from wind and wave power by 2020 – a 30% increase on the aim it set for using renewable energy three years ago.
The First Minister made the announcement ahead of an international conference in Edinburgh next week to boost investment in the low-carbon economy.
Mr Salmond 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.
“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 10th of its wave resource.”
Up to 28,000 jobs could be created to service the domestic and global markets for offshore wind turbines, according to Scottish Enterprise. Mr Salmond said an estimated 60,000 new green jobs could be created by 2020 in low-carbon industries.
He added: “Strong leadership is needed across government and industry to attract the investment to deliver these jobs, so the Scottish Government is today raising the renewable generation target for 2020 to 80%.”
His announcement was in line with a report published by Scottish Renewables which claimed Scotland could actually achieve 123% of its own needs in this way.
The industry body’s chief executive, Niall Stuart, said: “To secure this ambition requires confidence, certainty and leadership, all of which would be strongly reinforced and supported by the extension of existing targets, and can only be achieved with the right legislative, regulatory and financial environment for the development of all forms of renewables.”
Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “It’s time to change the approach altogether and set a date for turning Scotland 100% renewable, perhaps even before 2020. All the additional power we generate beyond our own needs could then be exported to our neighbours in the UK and beyond. That’s the vision we need for a low-carbon economy, not the SNP’s tinkering at the edges.”
During a Holyrood debate on the low-carbon economy Energy Minister Jim Mather said the current 70,000 jobs in the sector could rise to 130,000 by 2020.
Labour energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald said the First Minister had to match his words with actions. “Some of the biggest new wind power development applications made since 2007 have been turned down by SNP ministers,” he pointed out.
Conservative climate change spokesman Jackson Carlaw argued that the biggest energy priority at present was to extend the life of existing nuclear power stations.
World’s largest wind farm opens
The world’s largest offshore wind farm has been officially opened off the UK coast.
The 100-turbine Thanet wind farm, off the coast of Kent, will produce enough electricity to supply the equivalent of more than 200,000 homes a year, and brings the UK’s total power from onshore and offshore wind to more than five gigawatts – enough to power all of Scotland’s homes.
At the launch of the new site, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said the Government was focused on moving from the “frankly atrocious record” on green energy it had inherited.
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