LONDON Scotland has raised its renewable electricity target from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020, First Minister Alex Salmond said on Thursday.
By the end of the decade, the vast majority of the sparsely-populated country's electricity should come from low-carbon sources, the Scottish government said, brushing aside it previous target set in 2007.
"Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, where Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe's potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource," Salmond said.
"We are already on the path to a low carbon economy - Scotland gets nearly a quarter of it electricity from green sources."
Helped by a rapid expansion in wind power in Scotland's blustery countryside and wind-swept coastline, the country says it is on course to exceed its interim target of 31 percent in 2011 and has calculated that significantly higher levels of renewables could be deployed over the next decade with little change to policy, planning or regulation.
The Scottish government has ruled out building new nuclear plants north of the border with England, while the British government in London hopes new reactors will run alongside wind and marine energy technologies.
Britain's total offshore wind power capacity leapfrogged the rest of the world combined on Thursday as the largest offshore wind park came into operation off the coast of south-east England.
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren, Editing by Vera Eckert)