EDINBURGH, Scotland, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Community-level kickbacks from renewable energy projects were high this year for Scotland and the outlook for 2016 is just as strong, the energy minister said.
"2015 was a bumper year for community energy and 2016 can be just as exciting," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement.
The Scottish government said nearly $15 million was paid out to community governments from onshore renewable energy development. Ownership levels for community output, meanwhile, are at 508 megawatts, meeting the national government's goal of 500 MW five years ahead of schedule.
Scotland said it could survive as an independent country by powering its economy on renewable energy while drawing revenue from the North Sea oil and gas sector. The bid for independence failed last year, though the government has one of the more robust renewable energy strategies in the world.
"Scotland leads the way in the United Kingdom on local and community ownership of renewable energy and we are providing the best possible environment to help ambitious community groups reap the benefits," Ewing said. "I want to see even more communities take decisions about their local energy system and to have an economic stake in new developments."
Renewable electricity capacity has grown at an average rate of 660 megawatts each year since 2007.