Scottish ministers are aiming for 50% of electricity demand to be met by renewable energy by the year 2020, with an interim target of 31% by 2011, and recent reports suggests that they are running ahead of schedule.

Minister Alex Salmond said:

“…we are well ahead of schedule in meeting our renewables energy targets. The consented projects, as well as those already operating, represent some 35% of Scotland’s electricity needs.”

The UK is one of the windiest locations, and attracts significant investment for onshore and offshore wind energy projects. Vestas wind turbine manufacturers recently announced a new manufacturing plant near Campbeltown, Scotland, is being taken over by the subsidiary of another Danish firm, Skykon, which plans to expand the plant three-fold. Mr Salmond expects the deal will safeguard the current 85 jobs, create 250 more, as well as 150 indirect spin-off jobs.

Meanwhile, UK ministers were last night considering fresh incentives designed to spur investment in renewable energy amid evidence that the credit crunch is threatening government energy targets, made legally binding by the Climate Change Act 2008.

The Energy Minister hit back at claims that the Government was failing to deliver on an ambitious plan to foster a green energy revolution by building thousands of onshore and offshore wind turbines. Mike O’Brien told a meeting of renewable-energy chiefs that he was determined that Britain would meet its goal of generating as much as 35% of all UK electricity from wind, wave and solar power by 2020, up from less than 5% at present.

This was welcome news for the UK renewables industry in light of current job losses announced across the economy, and speculations over frozen investments drawing to a halt despite Gordon Brown’s rhetoric about the “Green New Deal” to help the UK out of recession.

Spanish firm Iberdrola Renovables confirmed they would be standing by all its planned wind power projects in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.

A spokeswoman for Iberdrola confirmed the company received consent for its first UK offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea, which will have 500 MW of capacity. Iberdrola’s five-year strategic plan to invest 18.8bn by the end of 2012 remained on track, she said.

He confirmed that the Government was examining new ideas to increase investment, which has been hit by the recession as banks rein in lending and the price of conventional fuels plunges.

Mr O’Brien said: “We are fully aware of the investment challenges facing some parts of the industry. We are examining how we can help ensure there is sufficient finance and other support available for viable projects which are short of the investment they need.”

The Observer recently reported that a £1bn public-private funding body, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), is allowing several multinationals to secure exclusive licences to British renewable developers’ innovations in return for providing funding. The firms in question include BP, Shell, E.ON and French government-controlled EDF.

Scotland’s confidence in meeting their challenging renewable electricity targets reflects the ambition from the country’s private industry, despite the lack of funding and investment from governments and banks; acting to only further highlight the supportive action needed across a united and great, Britain.

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