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Renewable energy levels hit record high

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Almost half of Scotland's electricity usage was created by renewable energy sources last year.

New figures published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change show 46% of all electricity used in Scotland in 2013 was delivered by green energy projects such as hydro and wind power.

That is double the figure for 2006 and environmental groups say it is evidence the country is well on track to meeting its government set targets of generating 50% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Dr Sam Gardner, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: "It’s fantastic news to see Scotland’s renewable electricity sector making consistent progress year on year towards its 2020 target.

Green electricity is reaping rewards for Scotland, slashing carbon emissions, increasing energy security and delivering jobs and investment.

“Green electricity is reaping rewards for Scotland, slashing carbon emissions, increasing energy security and delivering jobs and investment.”

Gardner did however warn the momentum must be maintained if targets are to be met and called on the UK government to seize the full opportunities of the country’s offshore wind sector.

Offshore increased its output by 36% in 2013 but one of the country’s biggest energy providers has since announced it is scaling back its focus in the sector.

SSE has scrapped plans for a major offshore wind farm at Islay and is to reduce its stake in a wind farm in the Moray Firth as well marine energy projects in Orkney remaining under review.

Energy minister Fergus Ewing however said Scotland continues to “lead the world” in development of marine energy technologies.

“There are more different wave and tidal power devices being developed and tested in Scotland than there are in any other country in the world,” he said.

“Our support for renewable generation, combined with energy efficiency measures, will help protect Scotland’s consumers by keeping energy prices down in the long term.”

Despite the announcement of record renewable levels regulator Ofgem has called for the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the energy market, which could lead to the "big six" energy suppliers being broken up.

The move comes as a result of a fall in customer confidence and concern about competition in the market it said.

National fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland, which estimates there are currently around 900,000 households in fuel poverty in Scotland, has welcomed the move.

It said it is encouraging that this action will investigate if there are excess profits being made, if there are barriers to companies wanting to come into the market.

Norman Kerr, director at Energy Action Scotland said: “If the review leads to lower bills and this can be sustained over time, then that will be to the benefit of consumers.

“Any move to make the energy market more transparent can only serve to increase customer confidence and that is certainly a step in the right direction.”

 

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