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Cabinet Secretary Urged by All Parties to Remove Barriers to Solar Power

Solar Energy Scotland
Immediate release
27.06.2022

Legacy policies are holding back one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, says a cross-party group of MSPs. They have today written to Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, urging him to convene a working group with industry and stakeholder representatives to support the rapid deployment of solar energy across Scotland [1].

The letter notes that:

“A consensus is forming, and the solar industry is ready and willing to work with Scottish Government to meet their legally binding targets for a just transition. It is time to give solar a seat at the table.”

This intervention comes a month after the Scottish Parliament debated solar power for the first time [2]. During the debate, all parties expressed their support for the solar industry in Scotland, and called on the Scottish Government to work with the industry to remove legacy planning barriers.  

Solar Energy Scotland is urging the Scottish Government to set an ambition of 4-6GW deployment by 2030 in its energy strategy, expected this autumn. Solar does not require any government subsidies, and the trade body predicts that, if planning barriers are removed, 4-6GW of solar could deliver more than 8,500 jobs by 2030 [3].

SNP MSP Paul McLennan said: “Scotland has major solar resource potential. Policy decisions in the next few months can provide the confidence for the investment needed in the sector and the impetus for skills agencies, colleges, and universities to prepare the skills base to move the sector forward.

“Having already met with Solar Energy Scotland, I look forward to continuing working with them to maximise the opportunities for the sector, building on our incredible renewables success story in Scotland.”

Conservative MSP Brian Whittle said: “There is resounding cross-party support for wider use of solar and other zero-carbon energy sources, but that support needs to be turned into concrete action by the Scottish Government.

“Acting now to secure reliable, cheap and climate-friendly energy sources like solar will give Scotland’s households secure energy for decades to come without being vulnerable to the crippling effects of global fossil fuel price rises.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “It’s really important that solar energy is discussed in the Scottish Parliament, and I was pleased to take part in the first debate. There were certainly some interesting views and points made by members across the chamber.

“But actions speak louder than words, and now is the time to abandon the business-as-usual approach and unite to work together on a robust plan.

“Scotland has the opportunity to be a pioneer in this area, and it’s a chance we should grab with both hands.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “Rules set decades ago are holding back Scotland’s solar industry. Solar can and should be contributing more to our efforts to cut domestic bills, reduce fuel poverty, and decarbonise our homes and workplaces.

“That will require the Scottish Government to respond positively to the call to establish a working group with industry and other key players to make it happen. All parties at Holyrood see the benefits of a strong solar sector: now it’s time to act.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said: “The need to expand renewable energy and move to cheaper forms of electricity production are both more urgent than ever.

“Solar has great potential in helping to deliver this and in achieving our climate ambitions. However, current planning restrictions and caps on business rates are holding the sector back.

“Scottish Ministers need to go further and faster to fully unlock this potential and utilise the cross-party support solar energy commands. They should give solar a seat at the table and a voice in the upcoming energy strategy.”

Chair of Solar Energy Scotland, Thomas McMillan, said: “The debate in Scottish Parliament demonstrated the strong consensus across party lines that solar can deliver for Scotland. It is time for the Scottish Government to act and convene a working group that will look at how to lift the outdated policy barriers that are holding Scotland’s industry back.

“There’s a real appetite for solar energy and all the benefits it can deliver – lower consumer bills, greater energy security, diversified income for farmers and landowners, and thousands of high-quality green jobs. Solar is subsidy-free and ready to grow. We have an essential role to play in delivering a just transition in Scotland, and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to achieve it.”

– ENDS – 

1. The text of the letter is available on request.
2. The Official Report of the debate is available here:
https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/official-report/what-was-said-in-parliament/meeting-of-parliament-25-05-2022?meeting=13771&iob=124954
3. The paper estimates 6GW of solar capacity by 2030 would lead to 8,644 new jobs, and 5,597 at 4GW. Those calculations are based on ONS figures, and Solar Energy Scotland also used comparator data from the US and the EU. The EU figures were closely comparable, and the US data markedly higher. The full briefing is available here:
https://solarenergyuk.org/resource/solar-skills-scotland-briefing/

For more information or to request an interview, please contact: James Mackenzie: [email protected] 

Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser at Solar Energy UK: [email protected] 

Solar Energy UK Press Office | solarenergyuk.org