The new Scottish Government has exceeded all expectations and increased its renewable energy target to 100% by 2020. First Minister Alex Salmond pledged to move “still faster and further” to secure Scotland’s place as the green energy powerhouse of Europe.

Previous to this announcement, the country’s target was set at the equivalent of 80% electricity consumption, with a 31% interim target for 2011. Having now surpassed this year’s target, the First Minister is keen to aim higher.

“Because the pace of development has been so rapid, with our 2011 target already exceeded, we can now commit to generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020. By then we intend to be generating twice as much electricity as Scotland needs — just over half of it from renewables, and just under half from other conventional sources. We will be exporting as much electricity as we consume. So we will continue to work with industry and Governments at local, UK and European level to build on what we have achieved. We will now move still further and faster to secure our place as the green energy powerhouse of the continent of Europe,” he explained.

Offshore wind will play a key role in achieving these ambitions, yet solar, tidal and other renewable power will also be utilised. Scotland has an estimated quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal energy resource and a tenth of its potential wave capacity. Lease agreements have been secured for offshore wind developments in Scottish waters with the potential to generate around 10GW of electricity by 2020, while similar agreements have been signed for six wave and five tidal projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters with a potential capacity to generate 1.6GW.

Over its previous four-year term, the Scottish Government approved 42 renewable energy projects and in 2009, more than a quarter (27.4%) of electricity demand came from renewables. Currently, there are around 7GW of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented in the country, enabling Scotland to exceed its interim target of 31% of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables in 2011.

Salmond has also launched an online portal showcasing Scotland’s offshore wind sector and announced the signing of a new strategic agreement between the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney and the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) in Nova Scotia, Canada, to collaborate on the development and deployment of power generation from the sea.