Scotland’s renewable energy industry displaced the production of 13 million tonnes of CO2 last year, a rise of 10% new figures show.
But the head of the industry body warned that the sector’s future was “far less certain” as the UK government is set to rule out onshore wind and solar power from the next rounds of auctions to supply power.
Environmental groups urged governments to up renewables targets for all energy production, including heating and transport, to maintain progress in the sector.
The new statistic on the record rise in renewable electricity production came in a written answer from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Scottish Renewables said.
The body’s chief executive Niall Stuart, speaking ahead of a Westminster reception in London last night, called for “supportive policies” to help grow the sector.
He said: “These new figures show the ever-growing contribution of renewable energy to the fight against climate change.
“Due to policies at both Westminster and Holyrood, renewables now provide the majority of Scotland’s electricity – but the sector’s future is far less certain.
He explained: “Onshore wind has been behind much of the rise in renewable electricity capacity in the last ten years, but we expect both onshore wind and solar to be excluded from the next round of auctions for contracts for low carbon power.
“Both technologies could make a significant contribution to meeting our future climate change targets, keeping bills down for consumers and to driving industrial activity. For all those reasons we believe that both should be able to bid for contracts for clean power in future government auctions.
“We also have considerable headway to make in the decarbonisation of our heat and transport sectors, which together make up almost 80% of the energy we use in Scotland.”
Renewable energy employs 21,000 people in Scotland across sectors including onshore and offshore wind, biomass, solar, hydro and renewable heat. The industry invested £910million in Scotland’s economy in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Mr Stuart added: “The economic, environmental and social benefits of green energy are clear to see. But we need supportive policies at Westminster and Holyrood if we are to continue the growth of the sector.”
Lang Banks, director of environmental group, WWF Scotland, said it was time for government to up targets set for renewable energy production.
“It’s fantastic news to learn that record amounts of climate-damaging carbon emissions have been avoided in Scotland thanks to increasing renewable electricity generation,” he said.
“However, with electricity generation now accounting for less than one quarter of Scotland’s climate change emissions, it’s now time to begin to reap the same benefits by increasing the use of renewables in our heat and transport sectors.
“Building upon the massive progress that has come from setting a target for renewable electricity, we now need the Scottish Government to set a 50% renewables target for all our energy needs by 2030. Independent research has shown that such a target is not only needed, but that it is achievable.”