The Scottish Government is committed to promoting the increased use of renewable energy sources. This commitment recognises renewables' potential to support economic growth.
It also provides new opportunities to enhance our manufacturing capacity and to provide new employment, not least in the remote and rural areas. This Government has set clear targets for renewable electricity. The First Minister wants renewable sources to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland's gross annual electricity consumption by 2020. Similarly, a target has been set for renewables sources to provide the equivalent of 11 per cent of Scotland's heat demand by 2020. Energy statistics are published annually.
An increase in the amount of renewable energy generation (electricity and heat) as a means of reducing carbon emissions could help our efforts to tackle climate change. The Scottish Government's Climate Change Act, which came into force in June, sets a target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, including emissions from international aviation and shipping. It also sets a world-leading interim target for a 42 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.
Scotland's pursuit of its huge renewable energy potential has been very successful to date. The installed capacity of renewable electricity generation overtook nuclear in 2007, which was celebrated on Green Energy Day - 7 September 2007.
The Government wants targets to be exceeded rather than merely met, and not to be viewed as a cap on what renewables can deliver. It is important that momentum towards the 2020 target and beyond is maintained. This will require many more technologies to start playing a major role - for example, marine energy and biomass energy. The 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland presents actions which are focussed on targets, within the current development of UK regulatory support, arguing constructively for the UK Government to ensure that such support matches Scotland's ambitions.
The main driver behind renewable electricity development in Scotland, now and over the coming years, is the Renewables Obligation (Scotland), or ROS. This mechanism places an obligation on electricity suppliers to provide an increasing amount of their electricity supplied from eligible renewable sources.
The targets should be met by as wide a range of renewable sources as possible. Scotland's historic hydro resource plus new onshore wind developments have made tremendous and welcome contributions to renewable capacity and output over the past few years; it is expected that deep water offshore wind, wave power, tidal stream and biomass will make an increasing contribution in future. The Government is supporting these emerging technologies in a number of ways, including support schemes for wave and tidal energy, renewable hydrogen fuel cells and biomass. Changes to the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order have also increased the financial rewards for marine energy.
Achieving these targets will be extremely challenging however the Scottish Government believes that our immense natural resources can be used to make a significant contribution towards meeting our, as well as wider UK and European targets.
Scotland's energy map is changing: the outlook is for cleaner, greener, more sustainable energy.