Scotland is on course to smash its renewable energy targets after official figures revealed record-high levels of green power generation.
The Scottish Government's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the publication of the statistics that confirms Scotland will beat the 2011 renewables target.
Statistics published today show that the amount of renewable electricity generated in 2011 rose 45 per cent on 2010 to 13,750 Gigawatt hours.
Assuming gross consumption in 2011 is similar to 2010, that means around 35 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs came from renewables in 2011, beating the Scottish Government’s target of 31 per cent.
The statistics published today also show that:
* Renewable electricity generation in Scotland in 2011 was a record high at 13,750 GWh - increasing 44.5 per cent on 2010, increasing 28.1 per cent on 2009 (the previous record year for renewables) and increasing 67.4 per cent on 2007
* Wind generation in 2011 was at a record high of 7,049 GWh - up 45.0 per cent on 2010 (the previous record year for wind) and has more than doubled since 2007
* Hydro generation in 2011 was at a record high of 5,310 GWh - up 62.6 per cent on 2010 (when output was reduced due to low rainfall), up 8.9 per cent on 2009 (the previous record year for hydro) and up 13.1 per cent on 2007
* At the end of 2011, there was 4,796 Megawatts (MW) of installed renewables electricity capacity in Scotland, an increase of 9.5 per cent (416 MW) on the end of 2010.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “It’s official - 2011 was a record breaker, with enough green electricity being produced in Scotland to comfortably beat our interim target. And Scotland met almost 40 per cent of the UK’s renewables output in 2011, demonstrating just how much the rest of the UK needs our energy.
“We are seeing great progress towards our goal of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.
“Projects representing 750 million pounds of investment were switched on in 2011, with an investment pipeline of £46 billion. And since the turn of the year, we have seen Gamesa invest in Leith creating around 800 new jobs, the Green Investment Bank being headquartered in Edinburgh and Samsung Heavy Industries announcing it will base its £100 million European offshore wind project in Methil, creating up to 500 jobs.
“Alongside securing those major developments, we have taken real steps to ensure that communities all over Scotland will benefit from the renewable energy generated in their area.
“Scotland is a genuine world leader in green energy and our targets reflect the scale of our natural resources, the strength of our energy capabilities and the value we place on creating new, sustainable industries.”
Dr Sam Gardner, senior climate change policy officer at WWF Scotland said: "It's great news that Scotland has smashed its 2011 renewable electricty target, but it should come as no surprise. We have repeatedly met our renewable goals for previous years and are well on track to hit the 100 per cent 2020 target.
"The projected growth in renewables, coupled with reducing electricity demand and better interconnectors has prompted the Scottish Government to forecast that we don't need an increase in our coal or gas capacity. This should rule out plans for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston.
"However, while attention has been focussed on renewable electricity we need to step up efforts on energy efficiency. With over 50 per cent of our climate change emissions coming from heating buildings, more also needs to be done to support greater renewable heat technologies."