It's no secret that Scotland has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable energy, and the country's progressive agenda appears to be paying off.
New numbers released by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change show that Scotland generated the equivalent of 57.7 percent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources last year. This record figure beats the government's 2015 interim target to meet half the country's electricity demand from renewable sources, and means Scotland is more than halfway to its ultimate goal of fully renewable electricity.
"This is another important milestone for our industry and shows renewables are now a mainstream part of our power sector," said director of policy for Scottish Renewables, Jenny Hogan. "There is still a huge amount of potential for future growth, if the industry is given the right backing by government."
The issue of industry support has become less certain of late, after the British government last year signalled significant cuts to renewable energy subsidies. It's likely the new landscape means Scotland now won't meet its original target of going fully renewable by 2020, pushing the goal back by as much as a decade.
Nonetheless, proponents of renewable energy are upbeat about the 2015 gains, which saw renewable electricity generation increase by almost 16 percent from 2014, in thanks to increases in wind (up 21.2 percent) and hydro (up 7.2 percent) power generation.
"It's fantastic news to learn that Scotland has continued to grow its use of renewables and now generates well over half of its annual electricity needs from clean energy sources," World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Scotland director Lang Banks told the press. "Ahead of May's elections we need all political parties to continue to prioritise renewables and commit to ensuring Scotland secures the benefits of becoming the EU's first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030."
It's a vision Scottish environmentalists are eager to deliver upon, taking the release of the new figures as an opportunity to draw as much contrast as possible with British PM David Cameron's agenda.
"This is great news and an important step in creating a fossil-free Scotland. Despite the UK government's ideological assault on renewable energy, Scotland is storming ahead, smashing through our 50 percent target for 2015," said director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Richard Dixon. "Clean, green energy is essential in the fight against climate change and Scotland needs to continue to be a champion of renewables while David Cameron continues to chase the nuclear dream in England."
Ouch! All we can say is brilliant work so far, Scotland, and it's an awesome milestone to celebrate. Here's to the next achievement (hopefully sooner rather than too much later).