Scotland must continue to build on the success of its renewable energy industry in the new year, campaigners and industry groups have said.
WWF Scotland, Scottish Renewables and Star Renewables hailed achievements in the sector in 2017 as “world-leading” but said the momentum must be maintained in 2018.
They highlighted milestones from the past 12 months such as the Scottish Government commitment to delivering 50% of all Scotland’s energy from renewables by 2030 and the world’s first floating wind farm beginning to deliver electricity to the Scottish grid in October.
Another key step was the planning permission granted in August for Scotland’s largest solar farm in Moray.
Sam Gardner, WWF Scotland acting director, said: “There’s no doubt this year continued to build on the great success we saw during 2016.
“Scotland remains a world leader in renewables innovation, utilising our immense natural resources.
“With well over half of our electricity needs now being met from renewable sources, the low carbon revolution is well and truly under way.
“We now need to build on the success we’ve seen in renewable electricity to drive forward renewable energy in our heat and transport sectors.
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 50% of all energy from renewables across heat, transport and electricity was one of the year’s most significant signals of intent.
“The announcement about phasing out new polluting petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 is an important first step but the commitment to 50% renewable energy needs to be matched by bold, concrete new actions to deliver.”
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said the achievements of Scotland’s renewable energy industry in 2017 were “something of which the whole country can be proud”.
She said: “In an uncertain policy environment, the 26,000 people who work in green energy have continued to ensure that the maximum economic, social and environmental benefits from the growth of renewables are delivered across Scotland.
“Also worthy of mention is the work which is being carried out in offshore wind, where projects are now starting to get steel in the water, providing a long-awaited boost for that sector’s many talented supply chain businesses.
“With the active backing of government, and the determination of industry, this industry can continue to deliver the benefits of our commitment to tackle climate change, bring secure, affordable energy to the UK and assist in the shift to a cleaner, more sustainable energy system.”
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Scotland is on an ambitious but achievable path to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future.
“Official statistics for the first nine months of 2017 have shown that Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable electricity generation, and that our renewable energy sector is stronger than ever.
“This reflects our commitment to clean, low carbon energy investment, and the Scottish Government will continue to work with industry, communities and stakeholders to strongly support the renewable energy sector in Scotland.”