Construction and energy minister says it is 'crazy' not to include elements such as solar power and wind turbines
Construction and energy minister Brian Wilson has urged contractors to include an element of sustainable power generation in developments.

Wilson said: "In future it would be crazy to build developments without maximising energy efficiency by using solar power, small wind turbines or combined heat and power plants."

He said: "The first people you would expect to build energy efficiency into their buildings would be energy companies. Utilities firms have become very effective clients – they want projects that are sustainable."

Wilson emphasised the opportunities for construction firms in the utilities sector. He said: "The renewable energy sector opens up huge construction potential. A lot of potential wind and hydro-power sites are much more dispersed than traditional power plants, so the transmission requirements offer huge potential for the construction industry." (Wind and hydro-power sites are, for instance, pencilled in on the Isle of Lewis and at Loch Ness – remote sites that are not part of the power infrastructure.)

Wilson also signalled the government's commitment to increase the proportion of Britain's electricity supply provided by renewable sources, as required by its "renewables obligation". He said this stipulated that 10% of electricity must come from renewables by 2010. It also imposed fines on energy firms that fail to meet this target.

Wilson said: "If we don't have an increasing target, we won't make progress – it's up to future governments to increase the target." The energy white paper published in February calls for 40% of electricity to be from renewables by 2050.

However, Wilson suggested that not all governmental departments supported the targets. He said: "Setting targets is useless unless there is a commitment across government. There are barriers in three main areas: planning, aviation interests and unanswered questions about the regulatory regime."

Wilson highlighted difficulties in securing planning approval for a wind farm on the Isle of Lewis. He said: "I hope it will get approval, since it is much needed."

He said: "I am delighted to see Scottish & Southern coming up with the biggest hydro scheme for 40 years, near Loch Ness. There is also a major refurbishment programme on existing hydro schemes worth £250m."