Scotland is pushing ahead in its drive to become the green energy capital of Europe, Energy Minister Jim Mather said.
He told an international gathering that the government would continue to create the right conditions for the renewables industry to boost economic growth and contribute to a low-carbon economy.
Speaking at the All Energy 08 conference in Aberdeen, Jim Mather said:
"In our first year of government, we have put renewable energy at the heart of our vision of increasing Scotland's sustainable economic growth.
"There have been notable strides. Installed renewables capacity is now greater than nuclear capacity. The Scottish government has set new, ambitious targets for renewable electricity, speeded up the planning process and determined 13 energy project proposals. We are looking at offshore grid links across the North Sea and with Ireland to export the electricity we generate. And along with industry, we have challenged the regressive electricity charging regime which acts against the development of renewable energy in remoter areas.
"With an excellent broad research and innovation base, our significant renewables potential and a government willing to listen and act, Scotland has never been in better shape to become the green energy capital of Europe.
"Climate change represents one of the biggest threats to the global economy and a significant opportunity for the development of low-carbon solutions.
"Emerging technologies will have a pivotal role to play and this is especially true of wave and tidal power. We have approved the biggest wave energy project in the world in Orkney, and over the coming months we'll finalise details of the world leading £10 million ($19.6 million) Saltire Prize to stimulate innovation in marine energy.
"We will consult on amending the Renewables Obligation to ensure the right level of support for new renewable technologies, giving developers clear incentives to maintain Scotland's leading edge.
"The government supports the EU target of 20% of Europe's energy coming from renewables by 2020, so in the next year we will produce an action plan on renewable energy that will map how we can achieve that. We will also publish a plan on heat to move towards a commercially viable, diverse, renewable heat industry for Scotland.
"And the Scottish European Green Energy Center, here in Aberdeen, will draw on the strengths of the Energy Technology Partnership and develop links across Europe to promote the development and deployment of green energy.
"With the support of the EU Commission and now the UK government, Scottish-based industry and research will be at the forefront of European and world developments in clean, green energy. That is the way we will become Europe's green energy capital, a vision this government is determined to realize."
The All Energy exhibition and conference is the UK's largest renewable energy event.
The Scottish government has set a target to produce 31% of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011, and 50% by 2020.
The Scottish government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 35 renewable project applications - 27 wind farm and eight hydro projects.
One Gigawatt of renewable capacity is currently under construction. Current renewable applications to ministers under section 36 of the Electricity Act amount to 3.4 Gigawatts, which, in line with processes for environmental assessment, public consultation and where appropriate public local inquiry, are all at various stages of the consents process and still to be determined. The Energy Consents Unit has also provided pre-application scoping opinions for a further 2 Gigawatts of potential renewable development.
To give a scale of the potential energy quantities involved, 6.4 Gigawatts is well over twice the current installed renewables capacity of 2.8 Gigawatts and would be more than enough to power all of Scotland's homes. Installed nuclear capacity in Scotland is 2.4 Gigawatts.
Notes to editors :
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