finance

Scottish solar industry calls for government support



Solar Energy Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to raise its game – setting out policy actions to support thousands of new jobs and provide low-cost energy.

The sector’s top priority is for Holyrood to set a clear minimum target of 4GW (4000MW) of installed solar capacity by 2030, with an ambition for 6GW (6000MW) also possible.

Such deployment could support at least 3,000 direct jobs, with the potential for many more throughout the supply chain and £2.5bn in economic activity, Solar Energy Scotland claimed.

Currently only a tiny fraction of this, around 380MW, is installed. Wales, Northern Ireland and Denmark have more than four times more as a percentage of electricity generation.

The Scottish Government is already proposing an eight to 12GW target for onshore wind and 11GW for offshore wind, but not currently for solar.

A statement from the group explained that specific Scottish Government policy interventions are required, some to level the playing field between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

They include: increasing permitted development rights for commercial rooftop installations, maintaining complementary conservation grazing and biodiversity incentives for farmers, while hosting solar developments and removing the need for building warrants on rooftop schemes.

Thomas McMillan, chair of Solar Energy Scotland, said: “For too long solar has been largely overlooked and suffered unconscious bias that Scotland’s weather better suits other renewable energy technologies that harness power from wind and water.

“As a technology, solar can generate both electricity and heat, it is modular so can be deployed as a micro-renewable or at utility scale.

“It can be located in rural locations or urban centres and it can be partnered with a range of other technologies, such as wind, battery, hydrogen and electric vehicles.

“Most importantly it has reduced in cost by 60% since 2010 making it low cost and affordable.”

The UK Climate Change Committee recommends 40GW of solar energy capacity by 2030 for the UK as a whole to be on track for net zero UK – and the organisation argued that Scotland has the potential to deliver a significant proportion of that.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, added: “In the midst of a climate emergency and unprecedented concern over the costs and risks posed by a fossil fuel dependent economy, it’s time to act to realise solar’s full potential.

“It will send clear market signals for companies to invest in their workforce and operations, expanding the supply chain and helping diversify the Scottish economy and the energy system.

“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government and Parliament to deliver solar energy’s fair share of the renewable energy mix – supporting local economies, providing jobs and delivering affordable energy for all.”

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