Scotland exported a record £745m worth electricity last year as wind power increasing becomes the country’s second North Sea Oil.

New official statistics show more than 17,000 gigawatt-hours was transmitted to England and Wales in 2019, more than ever before.

The net exports are so high they would have powered every home in the country for 21 months, the Scottish Government said.

Scotland produces far more power than it needs - though forecasts suggest demand for electricity will soar as heating and cars switch away from fossil fuels.

The new figures also showed that there were just 140 hours last year when Scotland’s own energy supply did not meet demand - and it had to import from England or Ireland.

This is despite the closure of the giant Longannet coal power station in 2016.

Imports during the less than six days when domestic output - including remaining nuclear generation - during those demand are up to but net exports are, nevertheless, also at an all-time high, of nearly 16,000 gigawatt-hours.

The Scottish Government, in a statistical review, said: “The fact that Scotland’s own supply is secure, and its abundant generation of electricity via wind means that Scotland has long been a net exporter of electricity.

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“In recent years, imports have increased as well, rising from approximately 200 GWh in 2014 to more than 1,000 GWh for every year since 2016. This is possibly a consequence of the closure of the coal-fired power station at Longannet in 2016, which has meant that there has been a potential need for Scotland to have non-intermittent electricity generation available.”

Power generators are currently looking at developing mass superbatteries to store wind and other renewable energy and overcome intermittent supplies.

But even without them, low-carbon energy - including nuclear - was able to meet all Scottish demand three-quarters of the time in 2019. That is up from just nine per cent of the time as recently as 2010.

Renewables alone met demand 42% if time last year, up from nearly 32% of the time a year earlier and as little as 0% in 2012.

Scotland has a target of producing the equivalent of 100% of its electricity consumption from renewables by this year. The 2019 figures put the country at 90%.

Scottish Renewables, an umbrella organisation for the industry, still thinks the target can be met.

It supports exports but also has an eye on the big prize: that domestic generation has to soar to meet new demand for electric cars and non-fossil fuel heating.

Scotland has one of Europ'?s nest records on green electricity. However the country's addiction to primitive gas boilers for individual homes means it has the continent?s worst performance on green heating.

Cara Dalzeil, policy officer at Scottish Renewables, suggested growth had slowed down because of decisions made in London.

She said: "The 100% target is still within reach, but policy uncertainty in recent years has meant our industry has not been able to deploy as much renewable electricity generation capacity as predicted.

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"The growth of offshore wind has happened more slowly in Scotland than in the rest of the UK and onshore wind, which makes up the majority of our green power generation capacity, was locked out of the energy market by the UK Government for four years, meaning very few new projects were built.

"We are however now starting to catch up offshore, and onshore wind is once again allowed to access auctions to sell the power it generates. We remain confident that with the growth in generation this will bring, alongside contributions from other technologies like solar, tidal power and hydro, the 100% remains within reach."

Scotland has another target: to get half of all energy - for transport and heating as well as current electricity needs - from renewables. The most recent figures, for 2018, put that number at 21%.

Electricity has a long way to catch up with fossil fuels in Scotland. The latest energy release says the country produces 10 times more primary oil than primary electricity, when converted in the kilotonnes of oil equivalent.

Meanwhile, net electricity exports may be growing fast but they have a long way to go to rival oil and gas.

Scotland exported £24.5 billion worth of those two commodities in 2018, a 40% rise in cash terms since the year before and the highest since 2012. Prices have since crashed.