RENEWABLE energy sources delivered the equivalent of 54 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2016, according to UK Government figures published yesterday.

The results also show that Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable electricity generation, with output in the first three quarters of 2017 some 19 per cent greater than the same period in 2016, and 10 per cent up on the same period in 2015 – the previous record year.

Scotland continues to lead the way in renewable energy in the UK with Scottish renewables generating approximately 24 per cent of total UK renewable electricity in 2016.

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The figures showed that renewables accounted for a record 42.9 per cent of total Scottish electricity generation in 2016 and this country continues to be a strong net exporter of electricity.

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse published Scotland’s first Energy Strategy on Tuesday which includes a £20 million Energy Investment Fund a £60 million Low Carbon Innovation Fund.

Reacting to the UK Government figures yesterday, the minister said: “Today’s very encouraging statistics show 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, green energy investment, and we will continue to support the renewable energy sector to grow further in Scotland.

“Yesterday, I published our Energy Strategy setting out Scotland’s Energy Future for the period to 2030 and beyond. The strategy recognises and builds on our achievements to date and on Scotland’s capacity for innovation. We are leading the way in promoting community and locally owned renewable energy – well ahead of the rest of the UK – and these figures are further proof of that.

“The future for renewable energy is bright in Scotland and these figures show that well over 50 per cent of our electricity consumption was delivered by renewables and we now know capacity and generation figures for the first three quarters of 2017 are very strong.

“A low-carbon economy is not just a practical way forward and renewable energy affects a very large share of our greenhouse gas emissions, but Scotland’s clean, green energy resources are now playing an increasingly crucial role in the security of Scotland’s energy supply.”

Responding to yesterday’s figures, Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland’s renewable energy industry is doing exactly what it was designed to do — creating reliable clean energy and skilled jobs, attracting investment and helping reduce the amount of damaging carbon emitted by polluting fossil fuels.

“These new figures show that the industry, as Scotland’s biggest producer of electricity, continues to go from strength to strength, benefiting both our economy and our environment.

“The publication of Scotland’s first Energy Strategy yesterday, and the inclusion of a new renewable energy target within it, sends a strong signal to industry that renewables should now take its place at the heart of our economy.”

One renewable industry is not entirely happy, however. The Solar Trade Association Scotland says it has “mixed feelings” over the Scottish Energy Strategy.

STA Scotland Chair, Chris Clark said: “While the Scottish Government recognises that solar has a role to play within the new Energy Strategy, it is disappointing that we are still missing the firm policy measures we need to boost the Scottish solar market. We need to maximise the potential for solar across all markets, especially on all suitable roofs of newly constructed buildings. This is why we want to see a dedicated Solar Action Plan for Scotland. The solar industry in Scotland is still in its infancy and the synergy solar provides with other technologies and smart systems, means this technology needs more prominence in the Scottish Government’s energy strategy. That is particularly the case if Scotland is to reach the target of 50 per cent energy from renewables by 2030.”