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Ministers Urged To Follow EU Lead On Solar Ahead of Parliament Debate on Solar Future.    

At 5pm today (25th May), the Scottish Parliament will debate a motion in the name of Fergus Ewing MSP about the future of Scotland’s solar industry [1]. This will be the first time Holyrood has specifically debated solar power, and the motion has all-party support.

Meanwhile, the European Union has recently published a new solar energy strategy [2] which commits the EU to more than doubling solar capacity from 2020 to 2025, up to 320GW, and hitting a 600GW target by 2030. The strategy states:

“Massive, rapid deployment of renewable energy is at the core of the REPowerEU plan – the EU initiative to put an end to its dependency from Russian fossil fuels. Solar energy will be the kingpin of this effort.”

EU member states will now be required to decide on solar planning applications within 3 months, and solar panels will be compulsory on all public and commercial buildings with a useful floor area over 250m2 by 2027. Solar will also be compulsory for all new residential buildings across the EU by 2029.

Solar Energy Scotland is urging the Scottish Government to set an ambition on this scale for our domestic solar industry. Solar does not require subsidy, and if legacy obstacles in planning are removed, the sector believes that 4-6GW could be in place across rural and urban Scotland by 2030. At the upper end, this would see more than 8,500 jobs created [3].

Scottish Ministers are expected to publish a new Energy Strategy this autumn, which is where industry argues a 4-6GW ambition for 2030 should be delivered.

Fergus Ewing MSP, who will lead today’s solar debate at Holyrood, said:

“Substantial growth for Scotland’s solar industry by 2030 would bring a broad range of benefits, reducing fuel bills, boosting rural economies, and bringing thousands of new high quality jobs across the country.

“Scottish Ministers are currently working on their forthcoming Energy Strategy, and I believe that’s the time to set the same kind of ambition for solar as has already been done for other renewables. Reaching 6GW of solar by 2030 will require proper coordination across Ministerial remits, ideally through a focused working group that can draw on industry expertise.”

Josh King, Vice-Chair of Solar Energy Scotland, said:

“This announcement from the European Union shows what can be done when policy-makers act with real urgency and determination. The EU has recognised that legacy planning barriers, processes which are often slow and costly, are an unnecessary obstacle to solar development, and that very much applies here in Scotland too.”

Emily Rice, Policy Analyst at Solar Energy Scotland, said:

“It is refreshing to see the European Union recognise that solar power must be at the heart of our response to the many of the problems faced internationally, including spiralling domestic bills, fuel poverty, energy independence, and escalating climate change.

“These same issues are just as urgent in Scotland, and this debate is an opportunity to build consensus across Parliament for the measures required if Scotland’s solar industry is to achieve its potential. As one of the cheapest sources of power available, we are not pressing for subsidies, merely the removal of some outdated barriers to decarbonisation.”

-ENDS-

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1. The text of the motion is available here.

2. See: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2022%3A221%3AFIN&qid=1653034500503

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: