Green energy projects have become the largest generator of electricity in Scotland for the first time. Renewables now produce more power than nuclear or fossil fuels.
Almost half (49.7 per cent) of Scotland’s electricity use came from renewable sources, such as wind and hydro power, in 2014, according to figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Renewable generation increased by 11.9 per cent in 2014, with a total of 38 per cent of the electricity generated in Scotland coming from this sector, compared with 33 per cent from nuclear and 28 per cent from coal, gas and oil combined.
Fergus Ewing, the energy minister, said: “[These] figures show that Scotland’s renewables sector is stronger than ever and our early adoption of clean, green energy technology and infrastructure was the right thing to do. It is fantastic news.”
Scotland produced 49,929 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in 2014, with 18,962 GWh from renewable power sources, some of which was exported around the UK.
The sector north of the border employs 21,000 people and last year produced 29 per cent of the UK’s renewable energy.
Mr Ewing pledged that despite “damaging policy changes” by the UK government, the SNP administration would “continue to harness, and bolster, Scotland’s renewables potential”.
He said: “Devolved administrations like the Scottish government will be strong drivers of a progressive climate agenda. A low-carbon economy is not just a practical way forward — green energy plays a crucial role in the security of Scotland’s energy supply.”
Joss Blamire, senior policy manager for Scottish Renewables, said: “These latest figures are a clear sign of how important renewables have become to our energy sector.”
Scotland has a 2015 target of generating the equivalent of 50 per cent of its energy from green sources, ahead of the goal of producing 100 per cent of electricity needs from renewables by 2020.
Mr Blamire warned: “While we are now almost halfway to our 2020 goal, the second half of the target is going to be much harder to achieve.”
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: “Given the urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions, we should all celebrate the news that half of Scotland’s power needs are met by clean renewable sources.
“That renewables are the largest single source of power is a major achievement we should be proud of. While Scotland has made tremendous progress on renewables, there’s still much more to be done on reducing our demand for electricity.”