Scotland has met its target of developing 500MW of community renewable energy projects five years earlier than originally expected.

Scotland’s government had set itself a target of establishing community renewable projects with a combined capacity of 500MW by 2020, however the country’s energy minister Fergus Ewing revealed today that it has already exceed that target with a current capacity of 508MW.

“Community energy represents tremendous potential to empower people to make the most of their own local resources. By creating a system that focuses on local energy, we can help to tackle some of our most pressing issues – from security of supply, to increasing energy costs – and stimulate local economic renewal,” Ewing said.

Ewing added his “delight” at having met the target early and said it created a “huge opportunity” for Scotland to increase its lead in the field.

“There are still challenges we need to overcome – community energy generally has higher capital costs, longer lead in times and frequent delays in connecting to the grid, while the UK Government is intent on slashing support for small scale renewables.

“The first national Community Energy Policy Statement makes community energy a central part of our energy ambitions and we are providing the best possible environment to help ambitious community groups reap the financial benefits of owning or hosting renewables schemes. I want to see more communities take decisions about their local energy system and to have an economic stake in new developments,” Ewing added.

Scotland has proven to be something of a thorn in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s side since May’s general election. The Scottish National Party has continued to be vocal in its opposition to the government’s policy reset and last month the country decided against removing grandfathering rights for Renewables Obligation support – a move already enacted south of the border.

Ewing has also been an outspoken critic of the government’s stance on renewables, collaborating with his Welsh counterpart Carl Sargeant to warn Amber Rudd of the “significant damage” the sudden removal of clean energy support frameworks would have on their respective countries.