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Scottish solar industry highlights potential growth of solar in Scotland




Scottish solar industry highlights potential growth of solar in Scotland

Solar Energy Scotland release action plan to deliver Scotland’s fair share of solar – creating jobs and reducing energy costs.

Today, renewable trade body Solar Energy Scotland, reveals how Scotland can support thousands of new jobs, and low-cost energy from solar power. Solar Energy Scotland has called on Government to raise its game – setting out policy actions to deliver Scotland’s ‘fair share’ of UK solar power potential. (1)

The industry’s top priority is for the Scottish Government to set a clear minimum target of 4GW (4000MW) of installed solar capacity by 2030, with an ambition for 6GW (6000MW) also possible. Currently only a tiny fraction of this (380MW) is installed. Wales, Northern Ireland and Denmark boast over 4 times more as a percentage of electricity generation. (2) The Scottish Government is already proposing an 8-12GW target for onshore wind and 11GW for offshore wind, but not currently for solar.

Specific Scottish Government policy interventions are required, some to level the playing field between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and 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 which duplicate and add cost to existing requirements for installation quality control.(3)

Thomas McMillan, Chair of Solar Energy Scotland said: “Scotland’s aspiration for a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy requires a robust plan of action for deployment of solar energy technologies. 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.  It can be partnered with a broad range of other technologies such as wind, battery, hydrogen and electric vehicles. It can make more efficient use of the electricity grid. Most importantly it has reduced in cost by 60% since 2010 making it low cost and affordable.

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK said: “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.

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 Scotland has the potential to deliver a good proportion of that. A Scottish Government commitment to a minimum of 4GW by 2030 deployment target is required, with an eye to reaching 6GW. Such deployment could support at least 3000 direct jobs, with the potential for many more throughout the supply chain and £2.5 billion in economic activity.

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.”

Notes to editors

  1. Link to policy agenda document here
  2. Figures below drawn from report: Despite the clear potential for solar power in Scotland, its share of power is far lower than that of England and Wales and even Northern Ireland and Denmark which are on an equivalent latitude. Deploying 6GW of solar by 2030 would result in Scotland having approximately 1.1GW of solar generation per million residents.

  • 3. Solar Energy Scotland recommendations for policy intervention by the Scottish Government:
  • Building regulations: these should include a target for energy costs for new homes, and recognise the role of exported solar energy in environmental performance, to ensure new homes are cheaper to run and support a just transition to electric heating systems.
  • Permitted Development Rights: these should be extended from the current 50kW maximum to 5MW rooftop solar projects.
  • Well designed development in Green Belts: The National Planning Framework 4 and Scottish Planning Policy should explicitly support solar developments in green belts as a low impact, biodiversity friendly technology.
  • Planning reforms should substantially elevate the Climate Emergency and mitigation through renewable energy development as a significant material consideration in decision making.
  • Building Warrants: this requirement should be removed for solar installations on production of a certified charted engineer’s structural certificate (SER)
  • Supporting a green recovery: Exempt on-site solar and storage from non-domestic rates
  • Investment in natural capital: farmers and landowners should be permitted to claim under the Basic Payment Scheme for solar projects on agricultural land, where they can meet natural capital and biodiversity objectives
  • Grid Infrastructure costs: energy policy should spread the cost of electricity grid reinforcement between solar, energy storage and wind generation technologies

For Further information or to request an interview, please contact:

Name: Rachel Hayes

Title: Policy Analyst


Main line: 0203 637 3301