Solar Energy Scotland
28 June 2023
The Scottish Government has abruptly stopped offering interest-free loans for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage systems.
The move will restrict access to one of the most effective ways to reduce household energy bills, despite the lingering energy price crisis and inflation squeezing incomes further. This decision will slow deployment, lower the pace of decarbonisation and tend to restrict everyone but the wealthy and middle-class from enjoying the benefits of solar power.
The announcement was not accompanied by a press release, nor was it subject to prior warning. There was no consultation, and no grace period as been offered.
Home Energy Scotland’s loans will now “only be available as part of a package together with a heat pump or high heat retention storage heaters. As a result, applications for solar PV and/or energy storage systems only will no longer be eligible,” according to an announcement made yesterday on the Home Energy Scotland website. The initiative is managed on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Energy Saving Trust (EST).
“This change is necessary to ensure that the scheme stays within its allocated budget and that available funding is targeted at installations which will maximise decarbonisation of heat or reduce heat demand,” it claimed.
“We are both shocked and puzzled by this extraordinary and regressive move, which needs urgent clarification. Restricting access to a key decarbonisation technology flies in the face of meeting net zero by 2045 and directly contradicts the Scottish Government’s recognition of the role of solar in decarbonising our energy system” said Emily Rice, Senior Policy Analyst at Solar Energy Scotland.
“This was an entirely unexpected and inexplicable move. Everyone wants to see vast increases in residential solar power. Doing something like this makes no sense, particularly after such warm words on solar from Holyrood in recent months,” said Gemma Grimes, Solar Energy UK’s Director of Policy and Delivery.
Solar remains the most popular form of renewable energy in the UK, according to the DESNZ Public Attitudes Tracker.
Solar Energy Scotland will be meeting with the EST, other trade associations and MSPs next week to discuss the way ahead. We are also seeking an urgent meeting with Scottish Government officials.
Business Energy Scotland is still offering similar loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, although “due to the very high number of applications” it is not currently accepting new applications.
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