Scotland’s national forest estate is now generating enough electricity for around 500,000 homes each year, with an installed capacity of over 1 GW of renewable energy.
The renewable energy boost has been achieved by Forest Enterprise Scotland alongside a number of energy companies who have developed renewables on the national forest estate.
Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for rural economy and connectivity, announced the 1 GW milestone during a visit to Scottish Power’s Harestanes windfarm near Dumfries. He said: “Our national forest estate is delivering on a number of fronts for the people of Scotland.
“This generation of clean renewable energy generation is playing an important contribution to our ambitious climate change programme. However, the benefits don’t stop there.
“Communities across the country, often in remoter rural areas, are currently benefiting from over £2.7m each year in community payments as a result of these renewable energy projects. This extra money is often welcome in helping communities with local initiatives.”
The majority of the 1 GW capacity is from wind farms with the remainder from small scale hydro schemes.
Harestanes windfarm generates around 212,000 MWh of electricity each year. Approximately £300k of community benefit is paid each year into a fund for the people of Annandale and Nithsdale.
The windfarm has also created 11 km of new tracks and paths throughout the forest which the public can use for recreation.
Kenny Peberdy, UK onshore director for ScottishPower Renewables said: "Our work with Forest Enterprise Scotland stretches for almost 20 years, and we have helped to deliver a portfolio of projects which contributes to the fantastic achievement of the 1GW milestone.
"We hope to continue this successful working relationship for many years to come, not only to develop new windfarms, but also to extend the life of existing projects and to re-power other sites. As the world strives for a carbon free energy environment, it is important that this gigawatt of clean electricity does not diminish in the years ahead.
"Harestanes itself is a great example of the additional benefits that renewable energy can provide. Beyond the clean megawatts of electricity, the project has also enhanced the recreational use of the land and millions of pounds of funding will benefit local communities."
Michael Ansell, Head of Estate Development with Forest Enterprise Scotland added: “Scotland’s national forest estate is ideally placed to help the Scottish Government meet its renewable energy targets and deliver for communities at the same time.
“We are continuing to support renewable energy with around a further 80 MW under construction through a number of projects. Another 330MW of renewable capacity is awaiting construction and a further 250MW is awaiting the green light through the planning system.
“All renewable energy projects on the national forest estate will continue to be developed sensitively through the open planning process with full consultation with the public.”