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Solar plays ‘crucial’ role in decarbonising Scottish homes 

Solar Energy Scotland
1 December 2022

Maximising the application of solar energy technologies to keep Scotland’s homes warm would make a major contribution to the nations’ climate goals and address the cost-of-living crisis, says the industry.  

According to modelling conducted for Solar Energy Scotland, installing solar systems typically leads to savings of between £313-£961 on energy bills. [1]  

As its new briefing makes clear, the “significant carbon and cost benefits” that solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems offer “must be incorporated into Scotland’s public policy agenda”. This is especially so considering the nation’s colder weather means greater demand for heat, alongside the target of hitting net zero by 2045 – more ambitious than the UK-wide deadline of 2050.  

“Transitioning away from gas and moving towards cleaner sources of onsite heat production for Scottish homes is in the national economic interest. This conclusion must be supported by decisive policy action to maximise the deployment of onsite solar – PV as well as solar thermal, heat storage and emerging technologies, including infrared. Onsite heat technologies generate power at a lower cost than grid electricity and reduce the need for investment in the broader energy system infrastructure,” that would be otherwise borne by consumers, the briefing adds.  

Homeowners must be supported to take charge of their bills and reduce their carbon emissions by installing solar energy systems. This would help a high volume of cost-effective and decarbonised homes as quickly as possible.  

“The ongoing energy crisis has made consumers, both domestic and commercial, hyper vigilant of their energy usage and more aware that our increasingly electric energy future should come from renewable sources,” said John Forster, Chair of Forster Group, one of Scotland’s leading suppliers of integrated solar and roofing solutions.  

“With landmark legislation committing Scotland to becoming a net zero society by 2045, and the cost of living crisis, now really is the time to make it as simple and efficient as possible for consumers to switch to using solar and take more control of their own affordable energy future,” he added.  

For new build homes, one of the key ways to accelerate the uptake of solar heat and heat storage technologies would be to add solar PV to the heat pump specification in the new Building Regulations. Doing otherwise would risk raising bills even further, a prospect Scottish households can ill afford.   

For existing homes, private homeowners should be supported by expanding incentives for onsite renewable heat technologies until at least 2030, through the Home Energy Scotland loan scheme and by broadening criteria for Warmer Homes Scotland.  

“As Scotland makes great strides in the decarbonisation of electricity, heat and transport, it is vital that affordability and energy security is at the forefront. Solar is unique in its ability to be deployed locally and impact fuel bills directly. Stable policy to support this is required,” said Josh King, vice chair of Solar Energy Scotland.  

The briefing provides case studies illustrating the financial and carbon benefits of installing a range of low-carbon technologies on four homes.   

With a modest two-kilowatt solar array, funded with an unsecured loan at 5% interest over five years, partly powering its direct electric heating system, a mid-terrace in northeast Scotland without energy efficiency improvements would save an estimated £961 per year.  

But households can benefit from more significant returns by combining solar PV with a battery system to maximise self-consumption of the power generated. For a well-insulated detached home in the west of Scotland, fitted with more solar panels, angled to the south and bought for cash, expected annual savings would be around £2,603 when coupled with a heat pump or £2,786 when combined with an infrared heating system.  

The third case study is a semi-detached house in the east, with some modest improvements in energy efficiency and solar thermal, PV and battery storage systems bought with a low-interest green mortgage. Despite facing east-west, rather than south towards the sun, it would generate effective annual savings of around £1,800 to £2,400, depending on the choice of heating system.  

In a socially rented end-of-terrace scenario, the financial savings of solar PV and thermal systems would be split with the housing association, which would benefit from excess power exported to the grid and greater confidence that rent can be afforded. Tenants would save an estimated £496-772 in the first year on their energy bills.  

The MCS Charitable Foundation provided the principal funding for the briefing. Forster Group, Viridian Solar, City Plumbing, and Q Cells provided additional funding. 

[1] The Value of Solar Heat: The Role of Solar Heat Technologies in Meeting Scottish Net Zero Targets

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Editors’ notes: 

Solar Energy Scotland is the trusted industry trade body for solar energy in Scotland. 

Alongside Solar Energy UK, we represent the entire solar and energy storage value chain. Solar Energy UK and Solar Energy Scotland are funded largely by our membership and represent a thriving member-led community of over 300+ businesses and associates, of which over 50 are based in Scotland. Our members range from ambitious and innovative SMEs to global brands. 

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

Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser | |