Scotland wants to be producing its entire electricity demand from renewables by 2025, its First Minister Alex Salmond said today.
Mr Salmond made the bold claim as he opened the Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference in Edinburgh, an event aimed at accelerating private finance investment in green projects.
The First Minister also revealed that an industry-led Offshore Wind ‘Route Map’ would be drawn up to galvanise the public and private sector to overcome existing challenges and maximise what he called the huge potential around Scotland’s coast.
Mr Salmond said: “Scotland has unrivalled green energy resources and our new national target to generate 80% of electricity needs from renewables by 2020 will be exceeded by delivering current plans for wind, wave and tidal generation.
“But Scotland’s ambitions go much further. Indeed, I’m confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100% of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy.
“Indeed, on the basis of the Offshore Valuation study, by 2050 we could be producing as much as seven times our domestic power needs through offshore renewables – positioning Scotland as the clean, green energy powerhouse of Europe. That will require us to harness a third of our practical offshore wind and marine resource by the middle of the century.
Mr Salmond said that innovation and advances in clean green energy present a “pivotal turning point in human history”.
“This is more than a once-in-a-generation opportunity, such as North Sea Oil and Gas was. Until now, mankind has largely been reliant on carbon based energy for fuel. Ever present was the realisation that finite resources must eventually run out. More recently, has been the realisation that our overuse of carbon and dependence on petrochemicals threatens the climate itself.
“The move to renewable energy is fundamentally different from the move from wood to coal or coal to oil and gas. That was just moving from one limited form of carbon based energy to another. Renewable energy is different: the wind and the waves will be with us forever. Once we make that shift to renewable energy, there will be no going back.
In Scotland up to 60,000 new green jobs could be created across the low carbon sector by the end of 2020 – some 28,000 of them directly servicing domestic and worldwide offshore wind markets.
“Capital may be difficult to get but the renewable resources of our land and sea are scarcely touched and now opening up.” He said countries in Asia were “racing from poverty to prosperity at growth rates of close to or above 10%”, and it was this prosperity that Scotland wanted to tap in to. “They are looking for solid, secure infrastructural investment to replace the asset bubbles of the past. While we won’t find all of the financing solutions this week, we know that it has been done before with North Sea oil and gas a generation ago. And we can do it again on the same scale. Let’s get down to work and bring our Renewables Revolution closer to reality.”
Andrew Jamieson, director of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “I welcome the publication of the Scottish Offshore Wind Industry Route Map. This clearly demonstrates that if the renewable industry continues to work in partnership with Scottish government, and that government continues to show leadership in this area, Scotland can capture all the employment and economic benefits that befit the huge renewable resources around our shores.”