The industry's top priority is for the Scottish Government to set a clear minimum target of 4 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, with an ambition for 6 GW also possible. Currently only a tiny fraction of this (380 MW) is installed. Wales, Northern Ireland and Denmark boast over 4 times more as a percentage of electricity generation. The Scottish Government is already proposing an 8-12 GW target for onshore wind and 11 GW 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.
“Scotland’s aspiration for a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy requires a robust plan of action for deployment of solar energy technologies” said Thomas McMillan, Chair of Solar Energy Scotland. “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, added that 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 40 GW 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” Mr Hewett said. “A Scottish Government commitment to a minimum of 4 GW by 2030 deployment target is required, with an eye to reaching 6 GW. 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.”
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