by Lauren Craig: There have been several big renewable energy news stories to come out of Scotland this year. The country commissioned its first grid-tied commercial scale tidal turbine; signed lease agreements for five new offshore wind farms; and dedicated £35 million ($54 million) to support the marine and tidal industry over the next three years. Since setting an ambitious goal to meet 100 percent of the country’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2020, the Scottish government is keeping a close eye on the numbers. And, if things keep going the way they have been going, 2011 will be a record year for renewable electricity production in Scotland.
New figures recently released by the Scottish Department for Energy and Climate Change show that in the first nine months of 2011 Scotland had already generated 94 percent of the amount of renewable energy produced in 2010, and 83 percent of that produced during the old record year of 2009. The percentage of renewable electricity production had decreased from 27.4 percent in 2009 to 24.1 percent in 2010, but the figures indicate Scotland will bounce back in 2011 and produce enough renewable generation capacity to meet its 2011 interim target of 31 percent.
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Part of the increase can be attributed to falling energy consumption. The figures show that energy consumption fell by 7.4 percent compared to 2008, and that Scotland is on track to meet its energy reduction target of 12 percent by 2020.
“These figures show that  is on course to be truly the best year yet,” said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. “This year projects were switched on representing £750 million of investment in renewables, and a staggering £46 billion of investment is in the pipeline. But most importantly, we have taken real steps to ensure that communities all over Scotland will benefit from the renewable energy generated in their area, with a community benefit register [and] loan projects to help them develop renewable energy projects of their own.”