The 80% replaces the current 50% target set by the Scottish Government in 2007, which First Minister Alex Salmond believes Scotland is well on course to exceed, especially given the natural resources available:
"We already have some 7 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland," he said. "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% target by 2020.”
Salmond also pointed to the employment benefits that strengthening the renewables industry would bring: "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.”
Salmond was announcing the new 80% target ahead of a major international conference in Edinburgh that will focus on how to accelerate investment in the low carbon economy. On Tuesday 28 September, he will open the two-day Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, where speakers and delegates will discuss the multi-billion pound opportunities presented by renewable energy and other low carbon developments.
Scotland has an interim target to generate 31% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2011.