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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 13:08 GMT
Green power blueprint unveiled
Wind farm
Wind farms have been growing in scale
A 2m investment in wave power has been announced as the Scottish Executive promised to adopt targets for increasing green energy.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie confirmed plans to produce 40% of the country's energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

He also announced the creation of a group which will aim to make the target a reality.

And he stressed the importance of wave and tidal power in meeting Scotland's energy needs.

'Enormous potential'

"This ambitious target should not be seen as a dash to wind," he said.

"Scotland enjoys enormous potential to tap a wide range of renewable sources of energy.

"It is essential that we move to a position where we make better use of all those resources."

Scotland already gets about 10% of its electricity from renewable sources, principally hydro, with increasing amounts coming from new wind farm developments.

By setting this challenging target, we are sending a clear signal of intent
Ross Finnie
Environment Minister
Mr Finnie said these areas would continue to make an important contribution.

But he said: "The 2m we are announcing today will help to boost research into energy from wave and tide through the new Marine Energy Test Centre in Orkney.

"It is only by working with individuals and organisations who will deliver renewable energy facilities that our ambition can be realised.

"This is why we are establishing a high-level Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland to accelerate the development of our renewable industry."

The Scottish Executive went out to consultation last year on the 40% target for renewable energy.

Renewable technologies

Mr Finnie said ministers had been persuaded to adopt the target by the potential to achieve a diverse mix of renewable technologies.

"By setting this challenging target, we are sending a clear signal of intent.

"We are supporting the accelerated development of renewable technologies," he said.

The importance of wave power has been stressed
Environmental group Friends of the Earth Scotland said the country could now set an example to the rest of the UK.

Dr Dan Barlow, its head of research, said: "This is great news and presents a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to curb its climate change emissions and benefit from the thousands of potential jobs in renewable energy technology.

"The Scottish Executive has demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy which goes much further than that set out in the UK Energy White Paper.

"The 40% target sends a clear signal that Scotland is committed to achieving a sustainable and secure energy policy based on renewables rather than polluting fossil fuel and nuclear sources."

'Fundamental problems'

However, other pressure groups like Views of Scotland oppose the spread of wind turbines.

It said that conventional power stations would still be needed as a back-up, even if the countryside was covered by wind farms.

Scottish National Party environment spokesman Bruce Crawford MSP said the announcement "fails to address the fundamental problems in promoting and using renewable energy".

He said there was an "urgent need" to upgrade the energy grid and that councils should draw up plans to identify areas where wind farms are acceptable.

'Reasonable target'

"And finally, we must ensure that Scotland benefits from the job bonanza that can flow from producing electricity from wind, wave, and tidal power as well as other forms of renewable energy," he said.

Green MSP Robin Harper welcomed the target and promised to keep up the pressure on the executive.

"Finally, after four years of lobbying, we have a reasonable target for renewable electricity," he said.

"It's not a huge target compared to the massive amount of power available from Scotland's wind and waves, and doesn't address the fact that a lot of our energy use is not just from electricity, but it's a start."

Louise Batchelor reports
"The executive is steaming ahead with renewable energy."

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