Scotland could realistically be expected to produce half of its energy needs using renewable technology by 2030, according to a new report.
Environmental organisations have urged the Scottish Government to adopt the target and implement an ambitious energy strategy to make it a reality.
The report by WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and RSPB Scotland used independent analysis by Ricardo Energy and Environment to identify cost-effective ways of meeting Scotland’s climate targets.
One of the main findings of the report was that in order to achieve these goals half of Scotland’s energy would need to be produced by renewables by the end of the next decade.
It also recommended that a Warm Homes Act be introduced to increase access to clean, affordable heat, suggesting that up to two-fifths of Scottish homes could be heated from renewables.
A national energy efficiency programme should help reduce energy use in homes by 30%, while millions of homes across the country will have to be insulated, the report added.
The report also placed an emphasis on increasing the number of vehicles powered by clean energy, suggesting one in three cars and half of all buses should be powered by electricity generated from renewable.
The Scottish Government has already hit its target to reduce emission by at least 42% by 2020, and was praised for enacting the second highest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Western Europe from 1990 to 2014.
It also aims to generate 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This report shows that a 50% renewables target for all our energy needs by 2030 is not only needed, but that it is achievable.
“Ministers should now make this a Scottish Government target and bring in the policies needed in its forthcoming energy strategy.
“Doing so would enable Scotland to enjoy the many economic and social benefits that the report suggests would take place as result of generating half of all our energy needs from renewables.
“Scotland is already seeing the economic and social benefits of shifting our electricity system to clean, climate-friendly, renewables generation.
“However, with electricity accounting for just one quarter of our energy use, it’s time to begin to reap the same benefits by increasing the use of renewables in our heat and transport sectors.”
Responding to the report, Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said it was time to “set an ambitious target to drive investment in renewable heat, power and transport through the 2020s”.
He added: “This report echoes Scottish Renewables’ call for a new 50% renewable energy target and, importantly, concludes that this is both achievable and key to meeting our climate change targets.”
The Scottish Government is due to publish its third climate change plan in early 2017, setting out how it intends to meet emissions targets between now and 2032, and work towards a long-term reduction of 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.
A new energy strategy looking at the transition to a low-carbon economy is also set to be revealed.
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government welcomes this report, which is a useful contribution to the ongoing debate around the future of energy in Scotland.”