Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, reaffirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to community ownership of renewable energy projects at the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference yesterday (Thursday).
Mr Ewing stated the Government's determination to see 500MW of installed capacity being locally or community owned by 2020 at the event hosted by leading law firm Harper Macleod in Inverness on Thursday,
He said: ""Scotland is leading the way across the UK in how we support local and community ownership of renewable energy. In the Highlands, renewable energy is an essential and vital part in contributing to sustainable economic growth. The investment we have provided to our Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) shows the commitment of the Scottish Government to support local and community based renewables. This will contribute to the continued growth of the renewables industry, securing future jobs and investment. Our ambition is for communities across Scotland to share in the rich rewards of Scotland's renewable energy resource, at all levels."
The 500MW target is part of the Scottish Government's 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy, which set out a target of meeting the equivalent of 100% of the country's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of large-scale hydro power in Scotland – which kick-started the renewables industry - and Mr Ewing also used his keynote address at the fourth annual SHREC to reaffirm the Scottish Government's commitment to renewable energy, particularly in the Highlands.
David Bone, one of the UK's leading renewables lawyers and Head Partner in Harper Macleod's award-winning Energy team, said: "SHREC has always tried to look at the issues which are important to the people of the Highlands and beyond. While major wind and marine projects are still the driving force in the industry, those at the grass roots level play a huge part in Scotland's renewable energy mix and that's why we decided to make this a focus of year's conference. We are delighted that the Minister once again chose to come to SHREC to support our belief in the importance of this area."
SHREC 2013 brought together more than 200 delegates representing the renewables industry, regulatory bodies, communities, crofter, farmers and landowners gather to debate the main issues affecting renewable energy.
Alongside Mr Ewing, delegates also heard from representatives of National Grid, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Community Energy Scotland and Scottish Renewables on the main stage, while a host of other bodies kept everyone up to date on the progress of renewable energy in Scotland at a series on in-depth breakout groups.
The members of Harper Macleod's Energy & Natural Resources team, named Energy Team of the Year 2013 at the Scottish Legal Awards, have been responsible for giving legal advice in relation to more than 1.8GW or land-based renewable power, as well as offering a wide range of expertise covering all aspects of off-shore renewables.