Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond announced last week a massive leap in the Scottish renewable energy targets from 50% to 80%.  The target is expected to be met by 2020.

By setting the ambitious target, Salmond has confirmed Scotland’s status as a global leader in the renewable energy field.  Scotland now hosts a substantial number of wind farms and is expected to meet an interim target of 31% renewable energy by 2011.

Salmond said “Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, where Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe’s potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource. We are already on the path to a low carbon economy and Scotland gets nearly a quarter of it electricity from green sources.

Scotland is ideally-placed to help lead the renewables revolution and taking account of the levels of planned investment over the next decade, I believe it is now time to aim higher and to go further.

Recent work by Scottish Enterprise has shown the huge potential for employment in the renewable industry, with up to 28,000 direct jobs being created to service the Scottish, UK and worldwide markets for offshore wind turbines. It has also been estimated that 60,000 new green jobs could be created by 2020 in low carbon industries

Strong leadership is needed across government and industry to attract the investment to deliver these jobs, so the Scottish Government is today raising the renewable generation target for 2020 to 80 per cent.

We already have some seven Gigawatts of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland. Given the scale of lease agreements now in place to develop offshore wind, wave and tidal projects over the next decade it is clear that we can well exceed the existing 50 per cent target by 2020.

It is vital that all of us work with ambition and vision to seize the moment and secure a sustainable future for the next generation.