RENEWABLE electricity generation in Scotland has reached a record high.

A new UK government report shows that generation was up by 13 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

There was also a 16 per cent increase in capacity with more than half of all gross electricity consumption in Scotland coming from renewables.

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Scotland’s total installed renewable capacity — the amount of renewable electricity the country is capable of producing — now stands at 9.3GW, which is four times what it was just a decade ago.

The renewable electricity sector also supports 26,000 jobs and has a turnover of £5 billion which is set to grow further as new capacity comes on stream.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “These statistics reinforce our country’s reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse and are a vindication of the Scottish Government’s energy policy.

“Renewable energy helps us reduce greenhouse gases and underpins our work to fight climate change. I am determined to ensure renewable power remains a key and growing component of our energy strategy — despite the UK Government’s withdrawal of vital funding.”

The statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also been welcomed by environmentalists.

Acting director of WWF Scotland Dr Sam Gardner said: “It’s fantastic news that Scotland’s renewable electricity generation is at an all-time high and re-affirms the vital role it plays in powering the country. The renewable electricity sector continues to play a vital role at the heart of Scotland’s economy, delivering jobs and attracting investment.”

However, he added: “If we are to replicate these benefits in the wider economy the Energy Strategy from the Scottish Government should make clear the steps it plans to take to remove fossil fuels from the heat and transport sectors.

“A transformation in how we heat our homes and offices, how we travel to work and school, and how we power our industries will generate many social and economic benefits.

“Research shows that generating half of our energy from renewables by 2030 is both necessary and achievable, benefitting the economy whilst also reducing damaging climate emissions.

“The Scottish Government now needs to set out clear policies for how it will replicate its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors to ensure we hit the 50 per cent target by 2030.”

Provisional calculations for the whole of the UK show that 8.9 per cent of final energy consumption in 2016 came from renewable sources, up from 8.2 per cent in 2015. There was a slight increase in the fuel used to generate electricity (up 2.4 per cent); heat and renewable transport fuel usage also increased.

Total energy production was 0.1 per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2016 and total primary energy consumption for energy fell by 2.8 per cent.

However, when adjusted to take account of weather differences between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, total primary energy consumption fell by 0.7 per cent. Final energy consumption (excluding non-energy use) was 2.2 per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2016.