Renewable power has overtaken nuclear to become the main source of electricity in Scotland, figures have revealed.
In the first half of last year sources such as wind and hydro power produced 10.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, figures from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change showed.
Nuclear power stations, which had been Scotland’s main source of electricity, generated 7.8TWh over the same period, according to data from the National Grid.
Meanwhile, 5.6TWh of electricity came from coal-fired power stations, with a further 1.4TWh from gas-fired stations.
Environmental campaigners and leaders of the green energy sector hailed renewables becoming the country’s largest source of energy as an historic landmark.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, claimed there was still “plenty of potential” for more, with offshore wind and marine energy still in the early stages of development.
Mr Stuart added: “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity is historic news for our country and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses.
“This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland’s economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.
“Every unit of power generated from renewables means less carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, decreases our reliance on imported energy and supports jobs and investment in communities across Scotland.”
He added: “The renewables industry has come a long way in a short space of time but there is still plenty of potential for further growth.
“Offshore wind and marine energy are still in the early stages of development but could make a big contribution to our future energy needs if they get the right support from government.
“That support includes the delivery of grid connections to the islands, home to the UK’s very best wind, wave and tidal sites.”
Lang Banks, director of the environmental group WWF Scotland, said: “Renewables overtaking nuclear power to become the largest source of electricity is certainly historic and represents a major step on the way to Scotland becoming a 100 per cent renewable nation.
“Last month, while nuclear reactors were forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland’s renewables were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country.
“Wind turbines in Scotland alone generated enough electricity to supply three millions homes in the UK – equivalent to 126% of the electricity needs of every home north of the border.
“Put simply, renewables work and are helping to cut climate change emissions and create jobs in Scotland.”